The Russian Defense Ministry made a fool of itself today when it posted on Twitter and Facebook "irrefutable evidence" that the US aided ISIS, which turned out to be screengrabs from a well-known video game and a video published online by the Iraqi military in 2016.
"This is the irrefutable evidence that there is no struggle against terrorism as the whole global community believes," said the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation in an inflammatory Facebook post, which it also shared on Twitter.
"The US are actually covering the [fleeing] ISIS combat units to recover their combat capabilities, redeploy, and use them to promote the American interests in the Middle East," the Ministry added.
Both social media posts contained five images showing what appeared to be satellite imagery of a convoy of trucks in a desert landscape. The Russian Defense Ministry said they were ISIS trucks fleeing the city of Abu Kamal in Syria on November 9, which the US refused to bomb.
The lame attempt of anti-US propaganda was debunked almost immediately as it was posted online.
Users were quick to notice that one of the images was taken from a video game named "AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron."
The Russian Defense Ministry did what every other troll does when caught red-handed — it deleted both posts. Fortunately, someone was quick to create archives on the Wayback Machine, for both the Facebook and Twitter posts.
The images were taken from a video published online by the Iraqi military in June 2016, showing a joint US-Iraqi mission that attacked an ISIS convoy outside Falluja.
Eliot Higgins, a researcher with Kings College London and Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, pointed out this was not the first time the Russian Defense Ministry's social media accounts were caught lying. The researcher pointed to three other incidents.
For example, when Russia started bombing Syria @mod_russia posted dozes of videos on their YouTube channel claiming to be hitting ISIS, when in fact the vast majority in territory not controlled by ISIS https://t.co/JCEmNPrx2v— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) November 14, 2017
Another time they presented aerial imagery of an undamaged mosque they said the media was claiming they had bombed, but they actually lied about the mosque being the one that was bombed, the actual bombed mosque was somewhere else https://t.co/kDXYQg8gJ7— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) November 14, 2017
Another time, @mod_russia were accused of bombing a hospital, and this time they didn't lie about the location, they instead used aerial imagery from before the attack and claimed it was from after the attack, the absence of damage proving it didn't happen https://t.co/rRhQPu25EA— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) November 14, 2017
Error or not, this is nowhere near as embarrassing as when a Danish TV station used a screengrab from Assassin's Creed to depict war-torn Syria back in 2013.