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Posts do not show ‘US general killed by Hamas’

Posts do not show 'US general killed by Hamas' - Featured image

Author(s): Carina CHENG / AFP Hong Kong

A man pictured in social media posts worldwide that falsely identified him as a United States military commander “killed in an ambush by Hamas” with “his unit of joint Israeli-US forces” during the war in Gaza has told AFP that he has “never been” to the besieged Palestinian territory. Ryan Brummond said his photo was taken in Afghanistan in 2013 when he served as a US special forces officer. On March 5, 2024, the US Pentagon said there were “no plans” to deploy American troops to war-torn Gaza.

“News reports from Tel Aviv and Washington: General Havery Skidder, commander of the US Delta Force, and his unit of joint Israeli-US forces were killed in an ambush by Hamas yesterday,” reads part of the simplified Chinese caption alongside this photo of a man in military fatigues shared on Weibo on February 12, 2024.

Screenshot of the false Weibo post, taken March 7, 2024

There have been no official reports that a US general named “Havery Skidder” was killed by Hamas militants in Gaza.

The picture was also shared in false social media posts in Chinese, English, FrenchArabic and Turkish. Other false posts included another photo taken by an AFP photographer of a group of US soldiers in Iraq in 2005.

In reality, the man wrongly identified in the posts as a US Army general is Ryan Brummond, who told AFP on March 7 that he had “never been to Gaza”. The photo shows him serving as a US Special Forces Officer in Afghanistan’s Wardak province in 2013.

The war in Gaza began after Hamas launched the October 7, 2023 attack on southern Israel that resulted in about 1,160 deaths, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive had killed more than 30,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

US Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder said on March 5 that there were no plans to send American forces to Gaza (archived link).

Afghanistan tour

A reverse image search on Google found the photo in the posts was originally published by the Associated Press (AP) news agency on April 20, 2021 (archived link).

The photo’s caption identified the man as “US Special Forces Officer Ryan Brummond”.

It said Brummond was among the US special forces who worked with Mohammad Khalid Wardak, a high-profile Afghan national police officer who was rescued after the government collapsed and the Taliban took over in 2021.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the false posts (left) and the original AP news report (right):

Comparison between one false post (left) and the original report (right)

The AP report with Brummond’s picture was also republished by US media organisation KTAR News (archived link).

Other news organisations featured interviews with Brummond discussing the rescue here, here and here (archived links here, here and here).

An earlier version of the AP report said Brummond at the time was in his fourth year of medical school (archived link).

Keyword searches found he was listed as a pediatrics resident physician on the Medical College of Georgia’s website (archived link).

AFP has debunked other misinformation related to the war in Gaza here.

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Originally published here.