A journalist in Washington, DC, November 14 looks at YouTube video showing images from a aerial assault video game. Russia's Defence Ministry shared the same footage online, saying it proved the United States was aiding the 'Islamic State' in the Middle East, but social media users pointed out the misinformation. [STF/AFP]
MOSCOW -- Russia's Defence Ministry Tuesday (November 14) posted images it said proved the US military was aiding the "Islamic State" (IS) in the Middle East, but social media users pointed out they included a still from a video game.
The ministry's official social media accounts said the black-and-white images were taken on November 9 near the Syria-Iraq border and provided "irrefutable proof that the US is providing cover to [IS] combat units".
But the Moscow-based NGO Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), along with a number of social media users, was quick to compare one of the images with an identical still from the wargame "AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron".
Other images posted to Twitter appeared to be taken from videos released by Iraq's Ministry of Defence in 2016, showing the Iraqi air force bombing militants near Fallujah, the CIT said.
AFP was able to compare the images in the emailed Russian Ministry of Defence (MOD) statement with the images of the video game on YouTube and to confirm the resemblance.
The images were later deleted from the ministry's Twitter and Facebook accounts.
The US Embassy in Moscow tweeted that "the US is not going to spend time on the nonsensical claims by the Russian Ministry of Defence accusing us of complicity with [IS], using images from video games and old photos of military operations in another country."
US military spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon called the Russian statements a "barrage of lies", saying they were "as accurate as their air campaign".
"I certainly can't verify, but I have seen a report that one of the pictures came from a video game," he said. "So again, that is pretty consistent with what we have seen come out of Russian [Ministry of Defence] as being baseless, inaccurate and completely false."
Earlier this year various media outlets accused President Vladimir Putin of passing off footage of the American military fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan as the efforts of Russia's air force in Syria during a television interview.
The Kremlin denied that Putin had shown the wrong footage to the American director Oliver Stone during one of a series of interviews.
With the 'Islamic State' on the verge of defeat, Kazakhstanis who joined the group are likely to begin returning home, where they will face anti-terrorism measures.
Popular support in Central Asia for Islamist insurgencies in the Middle East and beyond is waning.