The Russian Defense Ministry on Tuesday tweeted out "irrefutable evidence" that the U.S. is supporting the Islamic State, including screenshots showing the U.S. providing aerial cover.
"This is the irrefutable evidence that there is no struggle against terrorism as the whole global community believes. The US 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 MoD said on Twitter and Facebook.
The accusation, via the official @mod_russia account, included ghostly images purporting to show an ISIS convoy on Nov. 9 leaving Abu Kamal in Syria for the Iraq border, with air cover provided by the U.S.
It didn't take long for eagle-eyed Twitter users to realize it wasn't an ISIS convoy, but actually a screenshot from the mobile phone game "AC-130 Gunship Simulator."
A promo video for the game found on YouTube clearly shows the same overhead image of a convoy.
Eliot Higgins wrote on the investigative site Bellingcat that in the Russian image, you can clearly see the words showing the video is developmental footage and is subject to change.
Twitter users also pointed out that another image in the original tweet was not new, but is actually year-old Iraqi Defense Ministry footage showing its air force bombing ISIS positions in Fallujah.
Another alleged @mod_russia drone image accusing US of cooperating with IS was taken from a June 2016 Iraqi MoD video showing Iraqi Air Force bombing IS near Fallujah https://t.co/ybRbuAxA6w(via @uckuduk1) pic.twitter.com/MtzjqAAStW— CIT (en) (@CITeam_en) November 14, 2017
The MoD has since removed the photos. Later, a parody account of the Kremlin-backed Sputnik news site, called @Sputnik_Not, had some fun at the MoD's expense.
"When this was brought to the attention of the Kremlin they claimed the Russian MoD had provided the video," Higgins wrote. "If the Russian MoD is willing to pass off fakes to President Putin it seems somewhat unsurprising they would try to fool the world with video game footage, but, unfortunately for the Russian MoD, it seems the world, unlike President Putin, isn’t so easily taken in by fakes."