MOSCOW – Russia’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday posted images that it said prove the U.S. is aiding the Islamic State group in the Middle East — but one is a still from a video game, and others were shown to be from Iraqi footage.
The ministry said the black-and-white images were taken on Nov. 9 near the Syrian-Iraqi border and provide “irrefutable proof” that the U.S. is providing cover to IS combat units.
But the monitor 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 war game “AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron.
Other images posted to Twitter appeared to be taken from videos released by Baghdad’s Ministry of Defense in 2016, showing the Iraqi Air Force bombing jihadis near Fallujah, the CIT said.
AFP was able to compare the images in the emailed Russian ministry statement with the images of the video game on YouTube and confirm the resemblance.
The images were later deleted from the ministry’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
The ministry said several hours later that there had been a “mistake” and published a different set of pictures as “irrefutable proof” of American aid for the jihadis.
“The defense ministry is looking into a civilian employee of one of the departments who attached photos to the defense ministry’s statement by mistake,” a statement was quoted by Russian agencies as saying.
The military stood by its allegations, saying “the refusal of U.S. command to inflict strikes on ISIL convoys on Nov. 9 is an established fact recorded in the transcript of conversations.”
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said in a statement posted on Twitter that “the U.S. is not going to spend time on the nonsensical claims by the Russian ministry of defense accusing us of complicity with ISIS, using images from video games and old photos of military operations in another country.
“We need to focus on destroying our common enemy and not play games,” it said.
Moscow has previously accused Washington of “pretending” to fight IS in Iraq, allowing jihadis into Syria, where Russia and the U.S. have backed opposing sides in the bloody conflict.
The Pentagon has flatly denied the claims.
Earlier this year, Russian media 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 film director Oliver Stone during one of a series of interviews.