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No, image does not show Iranian aircraft attacking Israel

IN SHORT: As tensions between Iran and Israel continue to escalate, social media users have posted an image claiming it shows Iranian planes attacking Israel. But Africa Check has found that there's a high chance that the photo is AI-generated.

Note: This report includes details about a developing news story. Information was, as far as possible, correct at the time of publication but may change rapidly.

On 13 April 2024, a photo was posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, with the caption: “Iran mean business.”

The photo shows several aircraft flying over what appears to be a war zone. 

The post has been viewed over 6.2 million times and reposted over 3,600 times.

The same claim and photo can also be found on Facebook here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Some Facebook users have posted a screenshot of the X post.

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Iran-Israel conflict

On 1 April 2024, Israel attacked the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, killing several Iranian officers. 

In response, the Iranian government launched its own attack, with reports of drones and cruise missiles being fired at Israel on 13 April.

As tensions escalated, Israel launched a series of missile and drone strikes against Iran on 19 April. The extent of the damage caused by the attack remains unclear.

With the two Middle Eastern countries likely to continue exchanging fire, social media users are implying that the circulating photo shows Iranian aircraft attacking Israel.

But does it? We checked.

Unrelated and AI-generated image

A reverse image search found that the photo was first posted on X on 28 February, about a month before Israel attacked the Iranian consulate in Syria.

According to the BBC, Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles towards Israel in the 13 April attack, though causing minimal damage. There are no reports of aircraft entering Israeli airspace from any credible news agency.

Africa Check ran the photo through an AI image detector and found that there was a 98% likelihood it was AI-generated. 

Artificial intelligence, or AI, uses complex computer algorithms to perform some tasks otherwise done by humans. One such task is creating images from scratch based on simple instructions.

For tips on spotting AI-generated images and videos, see Africa Check’s guide.

Advanced image detector

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