Russian trolls are the talk of the town once again after a congressional investigation revealed the magnitude their fake social media accounts managed to fool us all.
But what happens when the official account of the Russian ministry of defence tweets a fake picture of a military operation?
This morning, @mod_russia tweeted in Russian, English and Arabic a series of drone combat pictures to accuse the U.S. of cooperation with the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.
"The Ministry of Defence shows irrefutable evidence that
#US are actually covering ISIS combat units to recover their combat capabilities, redeploy, and use them to promote American interests in Middle East," it said in the tweet.
#Russian_Mod shows irrefutable evidence that #US are actually covering ISIS combat units to recover their combat capabilities, redeploy, and use them to promote American interests in Middle Easthttps://t.co/DX6xaBEAmx pic.twitter.com/d5U98c5tPG
— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) November 14, 2017
There's only one problem: one of the still pics is from videogame AC-130 Gunship Simulator.
This is from YouTube's development preview of the game, from 2015:
Image: screengrab/youtube/Byte Conveyor Studios
And this is the image used by Russia, specific with location and date. The description reads: "The ISIS convoy, coming out of Abu-Kamal near the Syria-Iraq border. (Photo created November 9, 2017)"
The picture went viral on social media Nov. 5 after it was tweeted by @AnuSharmaUdh and debunked by Christiaan Triebert at Bellingcat:
— Christiaan Triebert (@trbrtc) November 5, 2017
Another drone image tweeted by @mod_russia allegedly shows Isis automobile convoy leaving Abu Kamal for the Syrian-Iraqi border on November 9, 2017:
But as the Conflict Intelligence Team notes on Twitter, the screenshot is actually from a June 2016 Russia Today video from Iraq's ministry of defence showing the Iraqi Air Force bombing ISIS near Fallujah: