FACT CHECK: Did Rebels Bring Down A Helicopter Carrying Chad President Idriss Deby’s Body?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims a helicopter transporting the body of former Chad President Idriss Deby was brought down by rebels.

Verdict: False

Rebels did not shoot down the helicopter carrying Deby’s body. The photo actually shows a military helicopter that crashed in Gabon on April 18.

Fact Check:

Chad announced on April 20 that Deby had died as a result of injuries he sustained during a battle against rebels, according to BBC News. The president had been on the front line visiting with soldiers fighting the rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), the outlet reported.

The April 23 Facebook post includes an image of a damaged helicopter lying on its side. “BREAKING NEWS: Rebels have brought down the helicopter that was ferrying the body of the former president of Chad Idriss Derby (sic),” the post states. (RELATED: Does This Footage Show Military Helicopters Flying Over DC In January?)

FACT leader Mahamat Mahdi Ali told Radio France Internationale that Deby was evacuated from the battlefield via helicopter, Bloomberg reported. The Chad military council said Deby’s “soul left his body as he was repatriated to N’Djamena,” according to the outlet.

There is no evidence, however, that rebels shot down a helicopter with Deby’s body in it. If a helicopter carrying Deby’s body had been shot down by rebels, media outlets certainly would have reported on it, yet none have.

Additionally, FACT spokesperson Sharfadine Galmaye said they would pause hostilities for Deby’s burial, saying “We will let them bury him… It’s a humane attitude,” according to The Guardian.

Deby’s state funeral took place in N’Djamena on April 23 with foreign leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, in attendance, according to CNN. Afterward, his remains were flown elsewhere in Chad for burial near his birthplace, BBC News reported. The outlet did not specify what type of aircraft was used.

Through a reverse image search, Check Your Fact found the image in the Facebook post actually shows a military helicopter that crashed in Gabon on April 18, according to the aviation website Key.Aero. The image likewise appeared in articles published by Gabonese media outlets Le Libreville and the Gabao Post, both of which reported there were no fatalities in the crash.

 

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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