the home of online investigations

You can support the work of Bellingcat by donating through the following link:

Initial Findings of the Crowdsourced Geolocation and Analysis of Russian MoD Airstrike Videos from Syria

October 6, 2015

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Yesterday Bellingcat launched an effort to use the Checkdesk platform to geolocate and collect additional information on videos posted by the Russia Ministry of Defence showing their airstrikes in Syria. This was triggered after the discovery that two videos the Russian Ministry of Defence claimed were filmed in or near ISIS controlled Raqqa were geolocated to locations over 100 miles west of Raqqa, in non-ISIS territory.

The first batch of videos including 14 videos, 12 of which have now been geolocated.  This has revealed the following information –

  • 3 videos were verified as being in locations matching the title and description of the videos. In all 3 videos the targets of Russian bombing are described as “terrorists” rather than ISIS, which is taken as a catch all term for armed Syrian opposition groups.
  • 5 videos gave locations that were accurate, but described the attacks as targeting ISIS when there is no known current ISIS presence in those areas.
  • 2 videos gave the location as Raqqa, but were in fact filmed over 100 miles west of Raqqa in areas with no known ISIS presence.
  • 1 video gave no location, but was geolocated to an area where there was no known ISIS presence, despite the title of the video claiming otherwise.
  • 1 video gave a location at the entrance to Ma’aart al Nu’man but was geolocated to an area 20km away from Ma’aart al Nu’man.

Based on the videos geolocated thus far there is no indication that the Russian Ministry of Defence has targeted ISIS positions, or hit targets in Raqqa, despite claims to the contrary.

Six new videos have been added to Checkdesk today for geolocation, which you can visit here.

Bellingcat Investigation Team

The Bellingcat Investigation Team is an award winning group of volunteers and full time investigators who make up the core of the Bellingcat's investigative efforts.

Join the Bellingcat Mailing List:

Enter your email address to receive a weekly digest of Bellingcat posts, links to open source research articles, and more.


  1. Mad Dog

    Agenda driven US media? What may that be pray tell? Did they set up the peaceful demonstrations in Syria that were fired upon by Assad’s forces and is this some sort of agenda? Please be a bit clearer on what you mean.
    IS presence is pretty easy to determine as they are most visible and pretty much hostile to anyone not in there group, i.e. they advertise their presence. Look at the maps and tell me they have some way to support themselves in the areas being bombed by Russia. Just seems like another Russian troll press here, discredit at all costs. Glad to see Bellingcat is seen as such a threat!


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

You can support the work of Bellingcat by donating through the following link: