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Russia Accuses US of Helping IS by Using Photo from Video Game as Proof

Images tweeted by the Russian Defense Ministry (later deleted) which the ministry said offered proof the U.S. was providing de facto air cover for Islamic State fighters in Syria (Source: @EliotHiggins)

A photo tweeted by Russia's Ministry of Defense earlier this week as "irrefutable evidence" that the United States was helping Islamic State militants in Syria was actually a screen grab from a video game.

The tweet on Tuesday alleged that the American military had prevented Russian airstrikes against Islamic State fighters by providing aerial cover as the militants fled the city of Abu Kamal on November 9. The image was tweeted by the Russian Ministry of Defense as proof.

But the image was from a video game called "AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron."

The Pentagon has "flatly refuted" the Russian accusation as a "lie," and the tweet has since been deleted by Russia's Ministry of Defense.

"Insisting that it happened doesn't make it true. It is not helpful to continue to insist it, just like it's not helpful to dig up images from old video games to display as part of the assertion," Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. said Thursday.

Army Col. Ryan Dillon said Tuesday the Russian accusation was "about as accurate as their air campaign."

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.