No, this photo doesn’t show the Taliban declaring victory over Iran

By: Toibah
June 1 2023

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No, this photo doesn’t show the Taliban declaring victory over Iran


The Verdict False

The image is from the Taliban's first press conference held on August 17, 2021, after the Afghanistan takeover.

Claim ID 51ab01ab


On 28 May, 2023, a Twitter account posted a picture of Taliban members during a press conference, prominently featuring Zabiullah Mujahid, the main spokesman for Afghanistan's Taliban administration. The accompanying caption, which states, "It is over for Iran. Taliban scholars say they have captured Iranian soldiers, including a top commander," falsely claims the capture of Iranian soldiers by the Taliban. This post has gained significant attention, with 132,000 views and 1,182 likes thus far.

The post was shared days after a clash erupted near a border post between Iran and Afghanistan on May 27, 2023, resulting in the deaths of two Iranian border guards and one Taliban fighter, as reported by Al Jazeera. The underlying cause of the clash can be traced back to a long-standing disagreement over the shared water resources between Iran and Afghanistan. The dispute revolves around the rights to the Helmand River, a river that spans over 1,000 kilometers, flowing from Afghanistan into Iran's arid eastern regions.

In Fact

A reverse image search revealed the picture was posted by the Russian news portal on August 17, 2021. The translated text accompanying the image credited the Telegram channel of RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned news agency, as the image source. We located the original image on the official Telegram channel of RIA News. The message attached to the image stated in Russian that the photograph was taken during the Taliban's press conference in August 2021.

We cross-checked our findings by examining images of the press conference on 17 August 2021, which showed that the image was taken two days after the Taliban officially took over control of the government in Afghanistan. Notably, we found that various renowned news outlets such as DW, Al Jazeera, and CNN published images from the same event, crediting the Associated Press and their photographer, Rehman Gul. AP published the image with the caption: "Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, positioned at the center, addresses his inaugural news conference at the Government Media Information Center in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. During this press conference, Mujahid explicitly expressed the Taliban's commitment to upholding women's rights, extending forgiveness to those who resisted their authority, and ensuring the security and stability of Afghanistan."

We found no official statements from the Taliban or news reports supporting the claim that the Taliban had captured Iranian soldiers. According to a report in Al Jazeera dated 27 May 2023, at least one Taliban officer and two Iranian border guards were killed on 26 May 2023 after a shooting near a border post between Afghanistan and Iran. Arab News reports that the Taliban government has urged Iran to address bilateral issues through diplomatic channels, as tensions at the border have eased following weekend skirmishes.

“The current situation is normal. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is never in favor of escalation,” Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Arab News. Similarly, Iran’s official news agency, Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) published a report on May 29, 2023, quoting Iran's Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, who stated that there are currently no problems and that everything is calm at the Afghan-Iranian border.

There are no reports that corroborate the claim that an Iranian commander has been captured.

We also went through the Twitter account, which states that it is a news portal based in Israel. The account collates and posts news updates from around the world from various news sources. While claiming to be independent, their tweets show a shift in support from calling the Taliban terrorists earlier to expressing support for them in the context of the conflict with Iran. It also frequently posts misinformation.

The Verdict

An old photo has been shared to falsely claim that the Taliban have declared victory over Iran and captured Iranian soldiers. The image, which is unrelated to the current clash at the Afghan-Iran border, was taken during a Taliban press conference in 2021. Therefore, we have rated this claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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