Helicopter emoji post shared after news of Iranian president's crash | Fact check

The claim: Israel War Room tweeted helicopter emoji before crash involving Iranian president was reported

A May 20 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) shows a screenshot of a helicopter emoji shared on X, formerly Twitter, by an account called "Israel War Room." The X post was shared at 8:58 a.m. on May 19.

"Israel War Room posted this 'ambiguous' emoji minutes before the news of the Iranian president's helicopter crash landing broke across a majority of news networks around the globe," reads text within the post. "Coincidence?"

The post garnered more than 3,000 likes in two days. Similar versions of the claim were shared on Facebook.

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Our rating: False

The post was shared after initial reports of the Iranian president's fatal helicopter crash were published on social media.

Post followed reports of president's helicopter crash

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and seven other officials were killed in a helicopter crash near the Azerbaijan border on May 19. A heavy fog and blizzard conditions reportedly hindered search operations, but the bodies of all the helicopter's passengers were found the next day.

Claims that the news was somehow known ahead of time by Israel War Room, a U.S.-based, pro-Israel social media account, are false.

Fact check: Footage of Iranian president riding in plane not captured hours before crash

The Iranian Students' News Agency shared a post about the crash on X at 8:35 a.m. ET, more than 20 minutes before the post shared by Israel War Room. The agency reported in the post that there was "unconfirmed news of an accident" involving the helicopter carrying the president in East Azerbaijan, according to Google translate.

Eleven minutes later, the Iranian news account shared a post saying the Khabar news network reported the accident to one of the president's wings, and at 8:53 a.m. it shared a post saying, "Initial reports indicate a hard landing accident for the helicopter carrying the president," according to Google translate.

The Iranian outlet Tehran Times announced the crash on X at 8:44 a.m. The Associated Press reported at 8:53 a.m. that rescuers were attempting to reach a helicopter involved in "an incident" while carrying an entourage including Raisi. Both of these posts preceded the Israel War Room post at 8:58 a.m.

USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

PolitiFact also debunked the claim.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Israel War Room, May 19, X post

  • Iranian Students' News Agency, May 19, X post

  • Iranian Students' News Agency, May 19, X post

  • Iranian Students' News Agency, May 19, X post

  • Tehran Times, May 19, X post

  • The Associated Press, May 19, X post

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Post misrepresents timing of helicopter emoji post | Fact check