Syria Daily: Russia Uses Fake Photo — From a Video Game — to Denounce US Over ISIS

The Russian Defense Ministry's statement, using the video game screenshot as a "satellite photograph", November 14, 2017

Russian Defense Ministry turns to “AC-130 Gunship Simulator” to make its point


Russia’s Defense Ministry has used a fake photograph to accuse the US of effectively providing air cover in Syria for the Islamic State.

The Ministry said on Tuesday, “The US command’s refusal to carry out strikes on the convoys of ISIS terrorists retreating from Albu Kamal [in eastern Syria on the Iraq border] on November 9 is an objective fact reflected in the transcripts of the talks and therefore, fully known to the US side.”

The statements included purported satellite photographs of a convoy of Islamic State militants leaving al-Bukamal, parts of which were briefly taken by a pro-Assad offensive last week before an ISIS counter-attack retook the town.

But at least one of the images was from a promotional video for the “AC-130 Gunship Simulator” computer game, posted online in March 2015.

The Ministry later said it will investigate the incident, which it said was caused by a civilian employee. But it persisted with its line against the US:

The United States’ refusal to carry out strikes against ISIS terrorist convoys retreating from Abu Kamal is a fact recorded in the transcripts of the talks and, therefore, well known to the American side, just as the active counteraction by US aircraft to the Russian Aerospace Forces, which were ready to destroy ISIS terrorists who were regrouping for new attacks against government troops near Abu Kamal.

Asked about the Russian allegations, Baghdad-based US spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon said:

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…coming out with their latest barrage of lies.

I certainly can’t verify, but I’ve seen the report that one of the pictures came from a video game. So, again that is pretty consistent with what we have seen come out of Russian MoD, as being baseless, inaccurate, and…completely false.

The Russian claim followed Sunday’s detailed report by the BBC of a deal which allowed 3,750 ISIS fighters and their relatives to leave the city of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s central position in Syria, when it was finally taken by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in October.

See The Deal to Let ISIS Leave Raqqa

Dillon responded on Tuesday:

This was not a secret….As the civilians were coming out there was an agreement that was made that ISIS-aged males or civilians that came out would be screened and we would take biometrical data from them to see if they were in our system, if not, to be processed in that system.

Turkey Criticizes US Over ISIS Evacuation from Raqqa

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry criticized the American response to the SDF-ISIS deal for the Raqqa evacuation:

It is an extremely grave and eye-opening revelation that the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces” dominated by [the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party and its militia] PYD/YPG, brokered a deal with the terrorist organization Daesh to evacuate a large number of terrorists from Raqqa while the operation to clear Daesh from Raqqa was already underway.

The Foreign Ministry said it “deplores” the statements of the US-led coalition and US Department of Defense: “The deal sets a new example of the fact that fighting one terrorist organization with another would eventually result in these terrorist organizations colluding with each other.”

Ankara considers the PYD and YPG to be part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, which has fought security forces for more than 30 years.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Tuesday:

Siding with a terrorist organization for demolishing another terrorist organization is not the kind of work which should be done by states. This work is shocking.

Those Daesh members, who were freed with their weapons, will be able to cause the killing of innocent people, notably in Turkey, Europe and America.

Russia Resumes Airstrikes Near Damascus

Russia renewed airstrikes on opposition positions in the East Ghouta area near Damascus on Tuesday.

Russian strikes had eased in recent weeks because of Moscow’s declaration of a de-escalation zone; however, opposition outlets said there were 29 raids yesterday, killing 10 people.

Pro-Assad outlets claimed more than 10 strikes on the towns of Madera and Harasta. They asserted that yesterday’s attack was a response to “a large-scale assault on the ‘Armored Vehicle Base’ by three Islamist factions” on the outskirts of Harasta.


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  1. [And beyond]

    Taliban ‘Red Unit’ With Night Vision Kills Dozens of Afghan Officers

    “The newest additions to the Afghan battlefield are fighters sporting Star Wars-like headgear containing Russian-built night goggles, American-made M-4 automatic rifles with laser pointers, and bulky telescopic sights made in Iran or Pakistan. They wear baggy shalwar kameez clothing and turbans — and fight for the Taliban.Members of an elite outfit called the Red Unit, they may even ride into battle aboard a Ford Ranger police pickup truck or an armored army Humvee. The red dots from their laser pointers shine on police officers and soldiers from the Afghan government, which has benefited from billions of dollars in Western aid to the Afghan security forces.”

    “In five nighttime attacks in a 36-hour period on Monday and Tuesday, fighters who appeared to be from such Taliban units killed scores of Afghan security personnel, mostly police officers, in two provinces in southern and western Afghanistan. The Afghan authorities said that the insurgents in these and similar recent attacks were proving to be better equipped than government forces, particularly those in police units, which have suffered most of the casualties. The Red Unit has carried out many of these attacks, Afghan officials said, often using stolen military or police vehicles as Trojan horses to get close to bases they plan to attack. “The Taliban now are using different tactics,” said Qudratullah Khushbakht, spokesman for the governor of Kandahar Province. “They have their own mobile special forces unit which is equipped with lasers and night-vision gear, and they are attacking check posts and bases and then leaving the area as quickly as possible to avoid airstrikes.””

    “That was the case in attacks into the early hours of Tuesday in two districts in Kandahar Province, in which Mr. Khushbakht said 23 police officers were killed and 16 injured in rolling attacks on 15 police posts. Other officials, however, put the death toll in those episodes in the Zahre and Maiwand districts at 70 officers. Mr. Khushbakht said that attacks began when insurgents drove a stolen police Ford Ranger pickup truck into a police post and detonated explosives, then moved on to attack nearby bases. A police official in the area, speaking on the condition of anonymity because his account contradicted the official version, confirmed that losses by the Afghan police were far worse than announced, with five police commanders among 70 dead officers and many of the police posts completely overrun by the insurgents. The official’s account was corroborated by several other police figures, who also declined to comment on the record.”

    • A bigger factor surely is motivation, which after a mere 16 years of spiritual edification from the Yanki “liberators” is still somehow severely lacking amongst the Quisling régime forces.

      It’s almost as if they remain unpersuaded theirs is a just cause, whereas the rebel Taliban are brimming with unabated conviction in theirs and see triumph within grasp.

      Anyhoo, let’s check back on progress in 2033.

      • Yes, hence the bulk of attrition experienced by ANSF isn’t KIA & WIA, but desertions. The average ANA and ANP trooper fights for money, as opposed to country, patriotism, and other such Americanisms. Feeding the family, not defending the country.

        US can only get what it (expensively) pays for. In this case a mercenary force which mostly consists of junkies. Their performance is perfectly in line with what you’d expect of such a force.

        • For a guy who seems to follow Afghanistan quite a bit it sure seems like you don’t know what you’re talking about. Afghan forces are “mostly junkies” who fight only for money? That must be news to the northern alliance who have been fighting the taliban since long before the US ever entered the picture and make up the backbone of the Afghan government. Also interesting that you evidently went to Afghanistan and asked the average Afghan troop what he fights for. Pretty incredible really.

          • I got those percentages from this book, written by Mason who “…has worked in and on Afghanistan for the past 15 years. Dr. Mason retired from the Foreign Service in 2005 and worked as the South Asia desk officer for the Marine Corps’ Center for Advanced Operational Culture and Language for several years, where he wrote the Marine Corps deployer’s guide to Afghan culture and the guide to Operational Pashtunwali. He has deployed to and traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan numerous times, beginning in December 2001, serving as the political officer on the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Paktika in 2005… . Dr. Mason trained tens of thousands of deploying American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization military personnel on military and cultural aspects of the war in Afghanistan, and has published widely on Afghanistan and Pakistan in numerous publications over the past 10 years.”

            On page 86: “..SIGAR reported the number of ANA soldiers using drugs was “at least 50 percent,” while the figure regularly cited is 75 percent, and it may be as high as 85 percent of all Afghan soldiers, according to some reports.”

            It’s an enlightening book! I’d recommend reading it. As for money, it’s pretty self evident… as in an inevitable fact of life in impoverished countries experiencing civil war.

            “That must be news to the northern alliance who have been fighting the taliban since long before the US ever entered the picture and make up the backbone of the Afghan government.”

            If only I ever denied the existence of grassroots opposition to Taliban rule!

            • And 33% the 15% who are not high on opium are the clean-living Taliban infiltrators … gathering sniping experience, intel, etc., while awaiting an opportune HVT for a celebratory “blue-on-green” whacking session.

              Cue the Yanki ticker-tape parade down 5th Ave. in about 2333 …

            • Who is SIGAR and what exactly do they mean by drugs? Tylenol? Heroin? Who administered the drug tests? I find that claim incredible. I don’t even see how it would be verifiable.

              • Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) “is the U.S. government’s leading oversight authority on Afghanistan reconstruction.” You can also follow them on Twitter here.

                I don’t know how they got to those numbers, but if anyone’s in a place to know, I guess it would be them.
                The obvious suspect as to what would be hashish and heroin. The latter has seen a rise since opium has lately been refined within the country instead of being smuggled out unrefined. Some of it inevitably gets siphoned off for domestic consumption.

              • So we’re supposed to listen to the same people who misplaced billions of dollars? Yeah, I’m even more convinced that’s not verifiable and they’re talking out of their ass. Until I hear what evidence that’s actually based on I’m calling bullshit. As if they could just walk around and look at the entire Afghan security forces and tell that half were on drugs.

    • It was painfully obvious that this chap was one of Tayyip’s pets all along … as he dedicated his full time to getting an SDF v SAA war started.

      Apparently that’s not going to happen so he has been recalled to the Mothership.

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