By: Sam Doak
March 31 2023
There is no record of such an attack occuring in Ukraine or elsewhere. This footage this image was taken from was shot in Syria in 2021.
Since March 30, 2023, multiple Twitter accounts have shared a photograph they claim was taken in Ukraine. The image is a blurry aerial photograph that shows a collection of vehicles burning next to a road. A thread posted by one of these accounts details the purported context behind it, stating, "40 corpses, dozens more bodies remain under the rubble - details of the Russian 'retaliation strike' on the NATO command center have appeared. A group of NATO officers and advisers was housed in a secret underground bunker built at a depth of 120 meters. More than 300 people in total. To date, 40 corpses have been recovered from the rubble of the headquarters, but most of the dead remain under the rubble. Most of them are British and Polish, but there were also Americans and representatives of private companies that maintain communication and data transmission."
However, this image was taken in 2019 and shows an oil-loading facility in Syria. Despite a lack of verifying details, some of these tweets have gained heavy traction since being posted. Within a day of being shared, one tweet has been retweeted over 1,700 times and gained approximately 5,000 likes.
Logically could find no record of this event or any reputable reporting to substantiate the existence of a NATO base in Ukraine as described by the Twitter accounts posting the photo in question.
Using a reverse image search, Logically confirmed that this image was taken from footage showing a location in Syria. According to coverage by the Associated Press, published by Al Arabiya, it shows "an oil-loading facility used by Turkey-backed opposition forces in northern Syria," which was destroyed in 2021. Al Jazeera's report provides more context: the site was hit by missiles "reportedly launched by Russia from warships and by forces aligned with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad."
While it is impossible to determine what motivated the accounts that shared this false narrative, the fact that many of them use the same wording could be a sign that they are part of a coordinated attempt to spread misinformation concerning the war in Ukraine. In 2020, Twitter acknowledged the use of "copypasta" – text copied and pasted by individuals across the internet – for this purpose on its platform and set out measures designed to mitigate the problem. According to reporting by Input, "the social network frequently sees floods of accounts re-posting the same messages to spread political propaganda or hateful messages targeted at a particular user and sway public opinion."
There is no evidence that a NATO base was destroyed by a Russian attack in Ukraine, as claimed. The image purportedly showing this was taken in Syria in 2021. We have therefore marked this claim as false.