Fact Check-Images do not show Pakistani aircrafts in Afghanistan’s Panjshir province

Social media users have falsely attributed images of a downed plane and a helicopter to fighting in Afghanistan’s Panjshir valley. The images are not recent, however, and are unrelated to clashes in Panjshir.

One image shows a crashed plane in a remote area with barren outcrop in the background while the other shows a Pakistani helicopter on a helipad.

Examples on social media are viewable (here , here , here , here and here).

One individual who shared the image of the Pakistani helicopter on Facebook said: “Pakistani military airplane in Panjshir to support Taliban. Pakistan was and is involved in Panjshir war. Withdrawal does not mean submission. The resistance continues.”

Another user who published the crashed plane on Facebook commented: “Pakistani plane crashed in Panjshir tonight.”

But the photographs are not from 2021, nor are they related to the conflict in Afghanistan.

The image of the Pakistani helicopter is viewable on Wikimedia Commons images, with credit to photographer Waqas Usman, and was taken in August 2002 (here).

The caption of the photograph reads: “A Pakistan Army helicopter at the Skardu Airport in Northern Areas, Pakistan.”

It has been published in numerous outlets such as the NL Times in 2015 and The Wire in 2016 (here and here).

Meanwhile, the image of a downed aircraft featured in an ABC 15 Arizona news report on April 14, 2018, about an F-16 fighter jet crash from Lake Havasu City Airport, Arizona (here).

The image was credited to Cathy Specht in the ABC 15 Arizona news report (here).

ABC News and later published the photograph in their reports regarding the crash (here and here).

The Taliban declared victory over resistance fighters in Panjshir on Monday - the last remaining region resisting Taliban rule. However, Panjshiri leader Ahmad Massoud said that his forces are still fighting (here).

The United States has accused Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of backing the Taliban in the group’s two-decade fight against the U.S.-backed government in Kabul. Islamabad has denied this accusation.

Reuters has previously addressed miscaptioned images circulating online in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan (here), (here).


Miscaptioned. Images of a Pakistani helicopter and a downed aircraft are not related to fighting in the Panjshir valley, Afghanistan.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.