• Russia used video game footage to accuse the US of backing Islamic State.
  • The plan backfired and the tweets have now been deleted.

Russia has been embarrassed after publishing an image it claimed was "irrefutable evidence" of US collaboration with Isis, which turned out to be a screenshot taken from a video game.

Citizen journalists have also accused the Russian Ministry of Defence of using a 2016 image from Iraq to allege the US is helping Isis in Syria, a claim that is widely promoted by Putin's government.

Russia is supporting Bashar al-Assad's regime in the Syrian civil war, which has now rolled on for more than five years.

The US and its allies support opposition forces, some of which have jihadist elements, though not Isis.

The embarrassing tweet, since deleted, read: "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."

The "irrefutable evidence" in question appeared to be an overhead thermal image of a convoy heading down road at night. The description said: "The ISIS convoy, coming out of Abu-Kamal near the Syria-Iraq border (photo created November 9, 2017)"

Unfortunately for the Russians, the image was pulled from a promotional video for AC-130 Gunship Simulator, a game designed for mobile platforms.

The mistake was swiftly debunked by Christian Triebart, a researcher at the open source investigations unit Bellingcat, a perennial thorn in the side of Russian propagandists.

Russia Isis computer game images
Russia's 'irrefutable' proof of the US supporting Isis... Twitter screengrab
Russia Isis computer game images
...turned out to be from a video game Youtube screengrab

Before the tweet disappeared, Russian users chipped in to express their displeasure at the gaffe. One wrote: "What am I paying my taxes for? This is something hands should be cut off for. Shame and humiliation.

"Another embarrassment in front of the whole world. I am not even sad for the country but I laugh in unison with it," another added, according to translations by Newsweek.

To compound matters, the Russian Ministry of Defence also tweeted a photo that allegedly shows the same Isis convoy leaving Abu Kamal for the Syria-Iran border on 9 November.

But another group of citizen investigators – this time the Russian-based Conflict Intelligence Team – undermined the official claims when it showed that the image was from a 2016 report about the Iraq conflict broadcast by RT (formerly Russia today).

The spurious tweets have now all been deleted, although many Russians are still furious at the high-profile bodges made by the ministry.

One tweeted: "Won't you comment on how a screenshot from a game appeared in your evidence file connecting the U.S. with ISIS." Another said: "Do not humiliate yourselves and do not humiliate Russia.

Russia Isis computer game images
Another tweet from the Russian Ministry of Defence... Youtube screengrab
Russia Isis computer game images
... was actually an old photo from Iraq Youtube screengrab