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Claim: Acting on a Ukrainian intelligence report, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will launch an attack on Syria and Iran to prevent the two countries from interfering in the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in a Facebook video posted on October 16, which has 142,000 views and 154 shares as of writing. The same video was posted on YouTube on October 15 by a channel notorious for spreading dubious claims regarding military activities and has garnered 179,204 views and 4,200 likes.
According to the narrator, NATO is preparing to attack Syria and Iran following a Ukrainian intelligence report that the two countries will launch a strike on Israel to support Hamas.
The bottom line: While NATO has pledged to support Israel, it has not made any statements about pre-emptively attacking Syria and Iran, which are both enemies of Israel.
NATO support: The alliance has pledged to provide “practical support to Israel,” with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg saying Israel has the “right to defend itself” but expects the country’s response to be “proportionate.”
Stoltenberg earlier warned that countries “hostile to Israel” will try to take advantage of the situation, and specifically named Iran and the Lebanon-based group Hezbollah. However, he made no mention of NATO attacking either country as a pre-emptive measure.
On October 27, the US launched missile strikes on Iranian-linked facilities in Eastern Syria following a series of drone and missile attacks against US forces, AP News reported. However, US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement that this was “separate and distinct from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.”
Israel is not a member of NATO, but it has been designated as a major non-NATO ally under US law, giving it certain benefits in defense trade and security cooperation. However, the status does not entail any security commitments by the US to the designated country.
Middle East conflict: Iran and Israel have a history of conflicts and shadow wars in the region. Since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, the country’s leaders have labeled Israel and the US as paragons of “imperialism” in the Middle East. In turn, Israel views Iran’s nuclear potential as a threat to its existence. Iran has also supported anti-Israeli groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas.
Syria, meanwhile, considers Israel an enemy, and the two countries have been in a state of war since 1948.
Kyiv intelligence: The Ukrainian intelligence report referring to Syria and Iran was not about the two countries attacking Israel but about their involvement in the production of drones used in Russian strikes against Ukraine. According to The Guardian, the document was shared by Ukraine with its Western allies in August, well before the Hamas attack on Gaza on October 7.
The battle continues: The death toll from the conflict continues to climb, with at least 9,485 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis reported killed since October 7, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (TIMELINE: Conflict between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza)
On October 27, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly called for an immediate humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas and demanded urgent access to aid. The resolution passed with 121 votes in favor, with 45 – including the Philippines – abstaining and 14 voting no.
Rappler has already published several fact-checks on dubious claims about the Israel-Hamas war:
- FACT CHECK: Video of ‘Israel-Palestine conflict’ is just a game simulation
- FACT CHECK: China calls for end to Israel-Hamas conflict
- FACT CHECK: Video shows Polish religious gathering, not pro-Israel rally
– Kyle Marcelino/Rappler.com
Kyle Marcelino is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.
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