Was the Ukrainian Azov Battalion caught executing civilians and dumping them in mass graves?!
Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : Azov Battalion Caught Executing Civilians In Viral Video!
People are sharing a video showing a few soldiers executing blindfolded civilians with their hands tied behind their backs, and dumping their bodies into a mass grave.
The video is accompanied by this message, which claims that it shows the Ukrainian Azov battalion executing innocent civilians :
Truth : Azov Battalion Did Not Execute Those Civilians In Viral Video!
This is yet another example of pro-Russia FAKE NEWS, and here are the reasons why…
Fact #1 : Video Was Recorded In Syria In 2013
Anyone who watched the video would have immediately realised that neither the soldiers nor the civilians look like Ukrainians.
That’s because the video was not recorded in Ukraine in 2022, but in Tadamon, Syria on 16 April 2013 – 9 years ago!
The video was recently leaked to the Guardian by a Syrian militia recruit, who stole it from a laptop belonging to the Syrian government.
Fact #2 : al-Assad Government Committed That Atrocity
The video actually shows Syrian soldiers kicking civilians who were blindfolded and tied up into a pit filled with tyres, before shooting them.
In the end, at least 41 men lay dead in that mass grave in the Damascus suburb of Tadamon, Syria.
After the Guardian broke the story and released the video on 27 April 2022, the US State Department strongly condemned the Tadamon massacre on 29 April 2022 :
Fact #3 : Killer Was Identified As Syrian Major Youssuf
That war crime was eventually traced to Branch 227 of the Syrian military intelligence service under the al-Assad regime, by a Syrian activist who called herself “Anna Sh”.
Amjad (Amgd) Youssuf – a major in Branch 227 – admitted to Anna Sh that he was the man seen in the video executing those civilians.
Fact #4 : Russia Actively Supports al-Assad Government
I should point out that the Russian government not only provides the al-Assad government with military support, they actively provide air support to the Syrian military, which includes launching airstrikes on Syrian civilians.
The Russian government has also notably declined to condemn the al-Assad government for their role in executing Syrian civilians in the Tadamon massacre.
It is likely that the creator of this fake news is attempting to cover up Russian complicity in that atrocity, by falsely pinning the recently-leaked video on the Azov battalion.
Fact #5 : Russians Were Caught Executing Civilians
This is not the first time fake news was created to cover up the fact that Russian forces were caught executing Ukrainian civilians, the most notable of which was the Bucha massacre.
After the Ukrainians evicted Russian forces from the town of Bucha, they found bodies of civilians who appeared to have been executed in cold blood and left on the road.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Russian Ministry of Defense immediately claimed that the footage of the bodies was “staged” by Ukrainians who placed them there after Russian forces left Bucha.
Unfortunately for the Russians, satellite photos taken weeks before their withdrawal showed that the Russians executed those civilians while they were in full control of the town.
A satellite image from Maxar showed that the bodies were already there as early as 11 March, with this clearer picture taken on 19 March. The Russians only left Bucha on 30 March.
Russian forces was also caught on satellite creating massive graves at Bucha, which were later found to contain bodies of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians.
So it is likely that they left these bodies on the streets of Bucha as a warning to the town residents, much like how Nazis in World War 2 would sometimes hang bodies in the streets of the towns they conquered.
Fact #6 : Azov Battalion Is Small
Pro-Russian netizens are incessantly harping about the right-wing, neo-Nazi Azov battalion, as if they are the Ukrainian version of Nazi Germany’s Waffen-SS.
The truth is – the Azov battalion has always been few in numbers, with a disproportionate reputation to its size.
The Azov battalion was formed as a volunteer group in May 2014, by members of the right-wing Patriot of Ukraine and neo-Nazi Social National Assembly (SNA) political parties, to fight against pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk.
With only about 500 members, the Azov battalion helped the Ukrainian armed forces recapture the city of Mariupol from pro-Russian separatists.
After that success, they were integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard, and reorganised as a regiment on 11 November 2014 with about 2,500 members.
Not only does the Azov regiment constitute a very small proportion of the Ukrainian National Guard, only about 10% to 20% of its members identify themselves as Nazis, according to Andriy Diachenko, the Azov Brigade spokesperson.
According to Anton Shekhovtsov, a Vienna-based Ukrainian expert on Russia’s connections to Europe’s far-right :
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