Crowdsourced Geolocation and Analysis of Russian MoD Airstrike Videos from Syria

Since the beginning of Russia’s air campaign in Syria the Russian Ministry of Defence has been posting videos of some of its airstrikes on its YouTube channel, and initial geolocation analysis of those videos have shown there’s a number of issues with the details provided by the Russian Ministry of Defence along with those videos. In at least two examples the Russian Ministry of Defence has claimed videos show airstrikes in against ISIS in Raqqa, but the videos have been geolocated to locations over a hundred miles away, with no known ISIS presence. In this first video of airstrikes posted on September 30th the Russian Ministry of Defence claims to hit ISIS targets:

In this second video posted on October 3rd the same location is attacked again, and this time the description on the Russian Ministry of Defence video claims the attack is near Raqqa:

However, geolocation of the videos show the location bombed was in fact in the non-ISIS town of Al-Latamneh, over 100 miles away from the location claimed by the Russian Ministy of Defence.

In addition to the Russian Ministry of Defence videos local groups filmed the scene on the ground:


In a second example of the Russian Ministry of Defence misidentifying airstrike locations the following video was posted claiming to show airstrikes on locations southwest of Raqqa:

Yet again, social media sleuths geolocated the video, and showed it was yet again over 100 miles away from Raqqa:

In light of the Russian Ministry of Defence’s difficulties in correctly identifying who, what, and where they are bombing Bellingcat is now launching a crowd-sourced effort on Checkdesk to geolocate every video posted by the Russian Ministry of Defence, as well as collecting additional information about the who, what, and where of what they’ve bombed. Once data has been collected it will be added to a public database showing the location of all the videos and related additional information.

To take part simply visit Bellingcat’s Checkdesk site, and click on the verification footnotes of the update you want to comment on. There you can add any comments or links you might have that are relevant to the video in question. We’re first looking for information to geolocate the Russian Ministry of Defence video the update relates to, then additional information about the site hit, including videos of the airstrikes, the aftermath of the airstrikes, and information on which groups operate in the area.