Russian defence ministry says images taken from gunship 'simulator' game were 'irrefutable evidence' of US support for IS
Russia faced online ridicule on Tuesday for publishing footage from a computer game as undeniable proof that the US was providing air support for Islamic State militants in the Middle East.
The Twitter post, which was published today by the Russian Ministry of Defence account in Russian, English and Arabic, said that the images showed "irrefutable evidence that #US are actually covering ISIS combat units to recover their combat capabilities, redeploy, and use them to promote American interests in Middle East”.
The now-deleted tweets show images taken from both video games and old footage of air strikes
But the images posted were lifted from footage from a 2015 YouTube video, which showcased the development of an AC-130 gunship simulator game for iOS and Android users.
The other images released in the same batch were reportedly from Iraqi army air strikes dating from July 2016.
The Russian ministry deleted the photos hours after their publication, and said on Twitter it was investigating a civilian employee "who mistakenly attached photo to official statement".
Anger and amusement
There were widespread reactions to the post, with many users expressing anger, amusement and derision of Russia's move, with many social media users posting their own versions of "irrefutable evidence":
— Sputnik (@Sputnik_Not) November 14, 2017
. Russian MOD shows irrefutable evidence of U.S facilitating Baghdadi's evacuation https://t.co/WEVCZApiYf
— S. Rifai (@THE_47th) November 14, 2017
Shocking new photo of interior of secret Ukrainian neo-Nazi base proves Hitler is alive! pic.twitter.com/h5K8Ud96CM
— Euan MacDonald (@Euan_MacDonald) November 14, 2017
— Suppiluliumas (@_Suppiluliumas_) November 14, 2017
Others reacted with anger at the attempt to mislead:
This is the best evidence the @mod_russia are shameless liars, they take a video game screenshot then claim its from a specific location and date. Anything they say it 100% untrustworthy. pic.twitter.com/zzzVbvZGcb
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) November 14, 2017
This thread is something amazing. I'd really really like any US citizen who says Russia is your friend to look at the brazen propoganda about your country supporting ISIS. Please wake the fuck up.
They use video game footage as EVIDENCE OF WRONGDOING. https://t.co/Xoo33paHrd
— oncegreatnation (@stainlessray) November 14, 2017
Russians used images from a VIDEO GAME to show that they are bombing ISIS. These are the same people Trump wants to work with. (BTW: @rabrowne75 reports that Russia deleted their original tweet.) https://t.co/8xhofruXK5
— Marshall Cohen (@MarshallCohen) November 14, 2017
This is not the first time that Russia has been linked to fabricating "evidence" on social media.
In May of last year, the Russian embassy in the UK was ridiculed after using a screenshot from the "Command and Conquer Generals" computer game to illustrate its claim that Nusra Front militants in Syria had received truckloads of "chemical ammo".
In 2015, pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine produced video that suggested the Ukraine government was being supplied with Stinger air defence missiles by the US.
Those claims were debunked when it was shown the "weapons" used in the video had been produced from 3D models used in the Battlefield video game, and carried the same typographical errors.
Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a US marines major and a military spokesman, told Middle East Eye that the latest Russian claims represented "just one more episode of a recurrent pattern of defamation, distortion, distraction that seeks to discredit the US and our successful coalition fight against ISIS in Syria".
He said the Russian defence ministry's attempts at propaganda went against the spirit of joint statements by both countries leaderships on their commitment to defeating Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.