The Russian Defense Ministry appears to have used at least one screenshot from a video game as "irrefutable proof" supporting Russia's longstanding, dubious claim that the U.S. is supporting the terrorist organization ISIS in Syria.
The ministry's official social media accounts posted images of what appeared to be infrared overheard surveillance photos of a convoy of vehicles that the ministry said showed the U.S. allowing ISIS fighters to escape from the Syrian town of Abu Kamal as the Syrian military closed in. But at least one of the images was actually lifted from a video posted on YouTube by a production company making a video game military simulator, as discovered by online sleuths and reported by The Guardian. According to The Guardian, other images posted appeared to have been taken from footage taken over Fallujah, Iraq by Iraqi authorities and released by the Iraqi government last year.
After being called out, Russia's defense ministry reportedly said that the wrong images had been used -- a simple mistake made by a civilian employee -- but maintained that the U.S. declined to carry out airstrikes on an ISIS convoy outside Abu Kamal. The social media posts have been updated with new photos, but a cached version of the original Facebook post is available here.
Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesperson for the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition, told Reuters, "The Russian ministry of defense statements are about as accurate as their air campaign and I think that is a reason for them to start, you know, coming out with their latest barrage of lies."
Still, the bizarre incident comes a day after a BBC investigation alleged that its reporters had uncovered a "secret deal" to let hundreds of ISIS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, the terrorist organization's de facto capital in Syria. In that case, Dillon reportedly told the BBC that the deal was struck by local leaders "on the ground," to whom the U.S.-coalition deferred.
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