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Duped: Here’s the video game clip people are confusing with Iran missile attacks on US bases

The forward deployed Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63) fires its Phalanx close-in weapons system (CIWS) during a weapons test while underway. Cowpens is part of the George Washington Carrier Strike Group, the U.S. Navy’s only forward deployed carrier strike group based out of Yokosuka, Japan and is currently conducting a routine Western Pacific patrol. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul Kelly/Released)
January 13, 2020

Tensions with Iran and rapidly developing events have made it difficult for some to sort out what’s real and what’s not. As initial reports of Iran’s missile attacks on U.S. bases emerged last week, some misinformation was also spread, including a video alleging to show a U.S. missile defense system in action.

A post in the r/videos forum on Reddit on Sunday shared a video purporting to show a U.S. Phalanx Close-in Weapons System (CIWS) taking down Iranian missiles flying over Iraq.

At first glance, the video titled “US missile defense system in action during missile attack in Iraq” might have appeared real to some viewers. Take a look below:

The war footage, shared by the “What’s Happening Around Us” YouTube channel, shows the Gatling-style Phalanx rotary cannon unleashing a steady stream of fire into an incoming missile. The video has garnered more than 370,000 views since it was first shared on Jan. 9 in the day after the Iranian missile strikes on bases in Iraq.

One user remarked, “I feel so much safer now.”

Another user pushed back on claims the footage was fake, until another user posted the original video posted to YouTube in September.

Comments in the original YouTube video reveal the stunning footage of white-hot tracer rounds streaking into the early morning sky to be nothing more than a battle simulated in the “Arma 3” computer game.

Comments on the newer Jan. 9 video were disabled. The Reddit user who posted the video also deleted the submission, though the subsequent comment section still remains visible.

One giveaway of the video’s lacking authenticity may be found in the smoke plumes of the missiles and their subsequent fiery explosions.

“Looking at the smoke and fire i‘m more than sure this is an animation,” one Reddit user said.

Another user said, “A dumbass could tell it was a sim, if you can spot it watch where some of the missiles land. Look at the plumes of smoke coming from the impact. Early 2000s, Vice City smoke lol.”

Here’s what footage of an actual Phalanx CIWS looks like:

Other videos have incorrectly been passed off as real war footage in the recent past. In October, during a Turkish military offensive into northern Syria, dozens of reports of Turkish attacks on U.S.-allied Kurds circulated. Amidst the chaotic news, the authenticity of a pair ABC News video reports did come under scrutiny.

ABC appeared to pass off 2017 footage from a Kentucky gun range nighttime machine gun exhibition as footage actually captured on the ground in Syria.