We know that Russia understands the value of social media when it comes to promoting fake news items, but the country’s Ministry of Defense is facing embarrassment after posting images of what it claimed was “irrefutable evidence” of cooperation between US troops and ISIS turned out to be a screenshot from a trailer for a mobile game.
"This is the irrefutable evidence that there is no struggle against terrorism as the whole global community believes," wrote the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation in a Facebook post, which was also shared on Twitter.
The Russian MoD deleted the statement, but, as you can read in this archived Facebook post, it’s claimed that Russia’s air force had supported Syrian troops in freeing the town of Abu Kamal from Isis.
According to the Ministry, the US refused to carry out strikes on ISIS fighters leaving Abu Kamal and allowed them to re-group in coalition-controlled territories. It added that the coalition’s aircraft tried to interfere with the Russian Aerospace Forces’ actions in the area in order to allow the terrorists to hide from Russian and Syrian strikes.
“The US are actually covering the ISIS combat units to recover their combat capabilities, redeploy, and use them to promote the American interests in the Middle East,” said the ministry.
But it turns out part of this “irrefutable” proof was a screengrab of a promotional video for mobile title AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron, a game set during the Vietnam war that involves providing air support for ground troops.
The other 4 ‘drone photos’ were actually images of Iraq’s air force bombing ISIS near Fallujah. These pictures came from videos released by the Iraqi Ministry of Defence in June 2016.
The Russian ministry is blaming the post on a civilian employee and says it is now investigating the matter. “However, the U.S. command’s refusal to carry out strikes on the convoys of ISIL terrorists retreating from Albu Kamal on November 9 is an objective fact reflected in the transcripts of the talks and therefore, fully known to the U.S. side,” it said.
This isn’t the first time the Russian government has used video game footage in such a way. Last year, the Russian Embassy in the UK Tweeted an image with the caption "Extremists near Aleppo received several truckloads of chemical ammo.” What the picture actually showed was the three variants of suicide bomb truck used by the GLA in the classic PC game Command and Conquer: Generals.