Amid conflicting reports of Taliban having captured Panjshir valley, the last remaining land pocket where Afghanistan's National Resistance Front (NRF) remains active, Hindi news channel Zee Hindustan aired footage of a small girl sitting behind a machine gun, giggling as it fires.
The news channel aired the footage in a segment about the conflict in Panjshir Valley, claiming that people of all ages, including children, were taking up arms against Taliban.
However, we found that the footage used by Zee Hindustan was an old video, which has been on the internet since at least January 2020. Although we have not been able to independently verify the location or the context but the fact that the video is old debunks the claim that it is recent.
Zee Hindustan aired the clip in a news segment which was uploaded to the channel's verified Facebook page, with the following title and text:
"Taliban News: Panjshir में Taliban के Against बड़े से लेकर बच्चे भी उठा रहें है बंदूक! | Afghanistan"
[Translation: Taliban News: In Panjshir, people from children to adults are taking up arms against Taliban. | Afghanistan]
WHAT WE FOUND
We took a screenshot of the footage used by Zee Hindustan and ran a reverse image search on Yandex. It returned results on many websites, and some of the results were from 2020.
Some of the earliest posts with carrying the same image were from January last year.
One such instance was a video uploaded to a YouTube channel 'Daughter of Baloch', on 26 January, 2020, titled 'Small Baloch Girl who firing with machine Gun'.
We also found a tweet from 31 January 2020 which carried the same video, showing a little girl in a colourful headscarf, seated on a tyre behind a machine gun.
Twitter user Faran Jeffrey, who as per his bio is a UK-based counter-terror expert, had also shared the clip on 2 September, where he clarified that it was an old video of a little girl somewhere in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, playing with a machine gun. He added that it had "nothing to do with any group or regime"
While we were unable to independently verify the location or the time when the video was shot, the existence of the clip on the internet in January 2020 confirms that it does not show children taking up arms against Taliban in Panjshir Valley.