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Fact-check: Have Turkey and Iran declared war on Israel?

A Turkish soldier guards on board the Turkish warship TCG Kemalreis as it docks in Haifa port, Israel, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022
A Turkish soldier guards on board the Turkish warship TCG Kemalreis as it docks in Haifa port, Israel, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 Copyright Ariel Schalit/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Ariel Schalit/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Sophia Khatsenkova with AP
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As the war between Israel and Hamas threatens to spill over into the wider region, some social media users are claiming neighbouring countries have declared war on Israel, including Turkey and Iran.

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A video allegedly showing Turkey moving a warship toward Gaza to defend Palestinians from Israeli strikes has been shared widely on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, over the past few days. 

"Turkey moved a warship towards Gaza as they said they would defend Gaza against Israel as tensions increase in the Middle East. This is getting interesting," tweeted one account.

The claim comes as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on 25 October that Hamas was not a terrorist organisation and cancelled a planned trip to Israel, exacerbating already existing tensions between Ankara and Jerusalem. 

By doing a reverse image search, we found the video is miscaptioned. The original video was posted on YouTube about ten years ago.

It shows an unmanned US combat aerial vehicle conducting a flight and landing test on a warship.

In the misleading video, a CNN logo was added to dupe social media users into believing it is a legitimate news report.

For the audio, we found it was also pulled from a real news report by WION, an Indian-Engish language news channel, with some key details edited. 

In a statement, the Turkish Presidency’s Directorate of Communications also denied the allegations presented in the fake news report.

"The allegation made by various social media posts through footage showing a ‘Turkish warship en route to Palestine’ is untrue,” wrote a spokesperson for the government. 

No, Iran has not raised a black flag as a 'call for war'

The second viral claim we’ve seen widely shared on X is that Iran has also declared war on Israel.

Many shared images of a black flag flying over the gold dome of Iran’s Imam Reza shrine – a holy site for Shiite Muslims located in the northeast of the country.

"This is a call for war or vengeance," said one blue-tick X user, known for spreading conspiracy theories. 

"A black flag is raised over Imam Reza shrine in Iran for the first time in history... This has all the makings of World War 3," wrote another account.

But after some digging, it turns out this black flag isn’t a call for vengeance or war. In fact, on the shrine’s Facebook page, it’s described as a “mourning flag” that was raised in response to the deadly blast that rocked a hospital in Gaza on 17 October.

▪️Mourning flag over the dome of Imam Reza's shrine 🏴 In an unprecedented gesture and by the order of the custodian of...

Posted by The Holy Shrine of Imam Reza A.S. on Tuesday, October 17, 2023

And unlike what these social media users claim, it’s not the first time the Imam Reza shrine has raised the black flag.

The black flag is raised annually to mark a mourning period for Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, according to Iranian state media.

In April 2023, the shrine raised the same black flag in order to commemorate Imam Ali, also seen as a martyr in Shia Islam.

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