Russian trolls are flooding the internet in the wake of America’s attack on Syria, with the Pentagon reporting that activity is up 2,000 percent with propaganda and lies spread across the internet.
The Pentagon reported a giant spike in Russian propaganda since the attack on Syria’s chemical weapons facilities, the Express reported. Russia supports the regime of Bashar al-Assad in the years-long civil conflict, and has publicly warned the United States not to strike against Assad after an alleged chemical weapons attack left more than 70 civilians dead.
After the strike from U.S. and coalition forces, Russian trolls took to the internet to spread propaganda about the attack.
“The Russian disinformation campaign has already begun,” said Dana White, a spokesperson for the Pentagon. “There has been a 2,000 percent increase in Russian trolls in the last 24 hours.”
Both Syria and Russia have denied that Syria was involved in the chemical weapons attack, and Russia has even gone so far as to claim that the U.K. faked the attack as a pretense to launch a strike against Syria, Sky News reported.
The Russian troll activity started even before the coalition strikes against Syria. As the The Daily Beast reported earlier in the week, Russian propaganda accounts were active online, denying the chemical weapons attack even before it happened.
“What’s perhaps interesting in this one is the way that Russian officialdom started building the narrative on a false flag a month ago,” Ben Nimmo, a researcher at Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and expert on disinformation campaigns, told The Daily Beast. “There’s a measure of foresight and forethought there which is quite interesting.”
The Pentagon did not say specifically where the Russian troll activity was focused, but in the past the Russian government has targeted a trio of the largest social media sites — Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. Twitter suspended a host of accounts identified as connected to Russian intelligence, and this week Reddit reported that it deleted close to 1,000 accounts identified as Russian propaganda. Some of the accounts were active as recently as this week, with the focus on sowing political division.
As the Russian troll accounts ramp up their campaign of propaganda, the Russian government has taken to mocking the United States through official channels as well. The Russian embassy in Canada posted a graphic on Twitter that showed the majority of missiles fired were intercepted by Syria, saying it was a “humiliation” for the western coalition.
According to @mod_russia, 71 #missiles out of 103 fired by US/UK/France were intercepted by the #Syria's military air defences. Good job of humiliation to the Western 'coalition' and an object lesson to the brazen American agressor. #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/SSEXaohx2E— Russia in Canada (@RussianEmbassyC) April 14, 2018
It was not clear if the United States had any plans to extend the conflict, and on Saturday morning Donald Trump posted a message saying they had accomplished their mission.