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.