- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2017

An image circulated by the Russian military Tuesday purportedly showing “irrefutable evidence” of U.S. forces assisting Islamic State terrorists was actually taken from a 2015 video game.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense shared the image through its Twitter and Facebook accounts as supposed proof of the Pentagon aiding members of the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS, but deleted the posts within hours after social media users showed it was a screenshot from a mobile phone game called “AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron.”

“This is the irrefutable evidence that there is no struggle against terrorism as the whole global community believes,” Russia’s Ministry of Defense wrote in the since-deleted social media posts. “The U.S. are actually covering the ISIS combat units to recover their combat capabilities, redeploy and use them to promote the American interests in the Middle East.”

The posts included several aerial images supposedly backing Russia’s claim, including one labeled: “ISIS automobile convoy leaves Abu Kamal for Syrian-Iraqi border (November 9th, 2017).”

British researcher Eliot Higgins of investigative site Bellingcat was among the first to find a YouTube clip of “Special Ops Squadron” showing that Russia’s defense ministry shared a cropped screenshot as an “irrefutable” proof,” evidenced most clearly by identical text appearing in both the video game footage and Moscow’s photo of the Islamic State convoy.

“This is the best evidence [Russia’s defense ministry] are shameless liars, they take a video game screenshot then claim its from a specific location and date,” Mr. Higgins tweeted Tuesday. “Anything they say it 100% untrustworthy.”

Researchers at Conflict Intelligence Team, a nonprofit group that investigates Russian military activities, subsequently reported that three other images shared by Russia as “irrefutable evidence” of U.S. forces assisting the Islamic State were actually taken from video released by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense in 2016.

The Russian military is investigating claims that a civilian employee attached the bogus images, state-run media reported later Tuesday.

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