Russia's defense ministry floated 'proof' on social that the United States is helping Isis in Syria, but the images appear to be stills from a military simulation game.
The photographs were appended to social media posts from the ministry’s official accounts posted on Tuesday morning, which accused the Americans of providing air cover for an Isis convoy with the aim of using Isis fighters to further US interests.
“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.
The allegations are extremely grave, but may be harder to take seriously given the “irrefutable proof” offered in the form of photographic accompaniment. None of the five photographs attached to the post were what the Russians claimed them to be, said online sleuths, with one photograph apparently a screenshot from the promo for a mobile phone game called AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron.
Conflict Intelligence Team, a group of Russians in the business of fact checking Russian military claims, made the discovery and revealed that four other images appeared to be taken from Iraq’s ministry of defense, showing the Iraqi air force bombing Isis targets near Falluja.
Soon after people noted the dubious origin of the photographs, the defence ministry deleted its tweets, and removed the photographs from the corresponding Facebook posts. However, a cached version of the post is available that shows the post with the photographs.
Russian defense ministry officials blamed the mistake on a civilian employee error, saying they were “carrying out checks on a civilian employee who mistakenly added photographs to the ministry’s statement.”