The Russian Ministry of Defence Publishes Screenshots of Computer Games as Evidence of US Collusion with ISIS

On the morning of November 14th 2017 the Russian Ministry of Defence published multiple posts in Russian, Arabic, and English on their Twitter and Facebook accounts, claiming to show “irrefutable evidence” of collusion between the US and ISIS combat units:

Unfortunately for the Russian MoD, eagle-eyed Twitter users immediately spotted some problems with the images. One image claimed to show an ISIS convoy leaving Abu Kamel on November 9th, 2017:

What this in fact showed was a cropped screenshot from the mobile phone game AC-130 Gunship Simulator, specifically a screenshot from a promo video for the game:

A side by side comparison of the Russian MoD image and the mobile phone game screenshot shows they are identical, with even part of the text from the promo video reading “DEVELOPMENT FOOTAGE. THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS. ALL CONTENT SUBJECT TO CHANGE.” visible in the cropped image used by the Russian MoD as their “irrefutable evidence”:

Left – Russian MoD Evidence; Right – The mobile phone game

The other images are also not from the dates and locations claimed by the Russian MoD, but from videos filmed in Iraq in 2016. The Conflict Intelligence Team highlighted one of these videos, showing the Iraqi Air Force bombing ISIS in 2016:

Other Twitter users identified footage from Iraq 2016 reused by the Russian MoD as part of their “irrefutable evidence”:

The Russian MoD is now in the process of removing the social media posts, but this not the first time the Russian MoD has been found using false footage. During Oliver Stone’s documentary on Vladimir Putin, Putin is filmed showing Oliver Stone footage of what he claims are Russian forces in Syria, but what in fact turned out to be old footage of US forces in Afghanistan:

When this was brought to the attention of the Kremlin they claimed the Russian MoD had provided the video. If the Russian MoD is willing to pass off fakes to President Putin it seems somewhat unsurprising they would try to fool the world with video game footage, but, unfortunately for the Russian MoD, it seems the world, unlike President Putin, isn’t so easily taken in by fakes.