Moscow has for months been accusing the US of aiding ISIS in Syria, and on Monday, the Russian Ministry of Defense finally tweeted out “irrefutible evidence” of the collusion.
But it turns out the evidence was just screenshots of a video game and old videos from Iraq, according to Bellingcat.
“#Russian_Mod shows irrefutable evidence that #US are actually covering ISIS combat units to recover their combat capabilities, redeploy, and use them to promote American interests in Middle East,” the Russian Ministry of Defense tweeted, in a now-deleted tweet.
One of the pictures in the tweet of the US supposedly covering an ISIS convoy leaving the Abu Kamal region was actually a screenshot from an AC-130 gunship simulator video game, Bellingcat reported.
Below is a side by side screenshot provided by Bellingcat of the Russian screenshot and the video game screenshot:
Russian Ministry of Defense’s “irrefutable evidence (left) and video game simulator (right). Screenshot/Bellingcat
The other three images were also not what Russia claimed, but instead from videos shot in Iraq in 2016.
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) November 14, 2017
Russian citizens themselves even called out their Ministry of Defense for the mistake, accordingto Newsweek.
“Do not humiliate yourselves and do not humiliate Russia,” one Russian tweeted at the Ministry of Defense.
“Won’t you comment on how a screenshot from a game appeared in your evidence file connecting the U.S. with ISIS,” another Russian tweeted.
On Tuesday, Russian state-owned media outlet TASS blamed the ordeal on a “civil service employee.”
“The Russian Defense Ministry is investigating its civil service employee who erroneously attached wrong photo illustrations to its statement on interaction between the US-led international coalition and Islamic State militants near Abu Kamal, Syria,” the ministry said, according to TASS.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has since deleted the tweets of the false images. However, some images are still up, including the one below, which is actually pinned to their page.
#СИРИЯ Минобороны России публикует неоспоримое подтверждение обеспечения Соединенными Штатами прикрытия боеспособных отрядов ИГИЛ для использования их в продвижении американских интересов на Ближнем Востоке https://t.co/SH9eWkgNlN pic.twitter.com/vIRvRStBEP
— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) November 14, 2017
But Michael Kofman, a senior research analyst at CNA, told Business Insider that while the images still up are not from the video game or old videos from Iraq, “they are really blurry and incredibly difficult to verify.””It’s impossible to tell, but I suspect none of this footage is real,” Kofman said, adding that even if they were images of ISIS convoys in Syria, it doesn’t prove that the US is aiding the terrorist group in any way.
“The claim itself is actually ridiculous,” Kofman said, with a laugh.