In November, Polygraph.info reported on how the Russian Defense Ministry used a video game screenshot to “prove” that the U.S. was helping Islamic State in Syria. But Russia isn’t the only place where video games are represented as real combat. On January 24, the Turkish news outlet Habertürk TV aired a segment which purported to show Turkish forces engaging “Kurdish terrorists” in Syria’s Afrin region (currently part of the so-called Democratic Federation of Northern Syria).
Viewers quickly noticed that the footage came from the 2010 video game Medal of Honor, which is set in Afghanistan.
The viewer can compare the two scenes below:
YouTube video of Medal of Honor:
Habertürk TV was founded in 2009 as a daily newspaper, according to Reporters Without Borders, (RSF) and is owned by Turgay Ciner, whose corporation “has investments in media, mining, energy, real estate and tourism.” While the channel is under private ownership, Habertürk TV drew the ire of protestors in 2013 when it was among mainstream media in Turkey that ignored mass protests against the government’s arrests of opponents.Turkey is listed as 155th out of 180 nations on the RSF World Press Freedom Index.
In January of 2018, Turkey began military operations against the Afrin canton, currently controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party and its military, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces. The U.S.-backed SDF was instrumental in liberating Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State, in October 2017.
Medal of Honor’s sniper mission is quite popular with international news outlets. In February 2016, the same footage was broadcast by Iranian state TV, which claimed that it depicted a Hezbollah sniper killing Islamic State fighters. The same footage appeared in Saudi Arabian media as well.
Medal of Honor, a first-person shooter game, was released in 2010. Since then, video game graphics have only continued to improve and become more realistic. Thus, it is wise to be vigilant when news outlets show dramatic combat footage. This is especially true when the footage utilizes night vision or thermal imaging, both of which can sometimes make computer-rendered images harder to distinguish.