Fake News scandal: Who trolled the Ministry of Defense?


November 15 , 2017 – Fort Russ News – 
Agencies – by Inessa Sinchougova

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The Rossiya 24 television channel has broadcast footage of a cellphone game, that the Russian Defense Ministry issued as evidence of US cooperation with the terrorist group Islamic State. 

The mistake on behalf of Rossiya 24 News has been dubbed “the loudest fake news of 2017” on YouTube, with Western mainstream media picking up the story in glee.

In the video, the presenter reports that the US-led international coalition supports ISIS members and cooperates with them. It is claimed that the terrorists, escaping from the attacks of Russian aviation and the Syrian government troops, leave in columns in the direction of the Syrian-Iranian border (there is no such border.)

Ministry of Defense post

As proof, the viewers were shown screenshots from the smartphone game AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron. “These facts are indisputable proof that the United States provides cover for ISIS and uses them to advance their interests in the Middle East,” quoting verbatim the report of the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The Russian Defense Ministry earlier published footage in social networks, allegedly confirming the provision of cover for ISIS by the US military. 

As complaints from viewers poured in, mainly in regard to the fact that Syria and Iran do not share a border, it turned out that one of the images exactly matches a screenshot from the smartphone game, and several others are frames from the Iraqi Air Force in Fallujah in 2016.

Smartphone game

The Ministry of Defence has since  removed the post from social networks and issued a statement explaining that an employee attached the wrong photographic materials to the statement of the ministry about the interaction of the American coalition and ISIS terrorists, in the Abu-Kemal area. An official investigation is being carried out against the employee.

It is highly unusual to bypass two rounds of quality control – both within the Ministry of Defense, as well as the team of journalists, producers and editors at Rossiya 24. Is this a case of a genuine mistake, or targeted disinformation to bring less credibility to the Ministry of Defense, by an intruder? The story is being updated as new details come to light. 

Inessa Sinchougova is an Editor and Journalist at Fort Russ News, as well as a research fellow and translator of the Belgrade based think-tank, the Center for Syncretic Studies. She was educated at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand), in the field of Political Science and was previously employed in Marketing and Communications Strategy for a Multi-National Corporation. She runs a popular YouTube channel for translations of key Russian Foreign Policy figures and appears regularly on other alternative media channels.  

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