Turkey’s leadership, including President Erdogan and his family, is involved in illegal oil trade with Islamic State militants, the Russian Defense Ministry said, stressing that Turkey is the final destination for oil smuggled from Syria and Iraq.
In a major briefing on new findings concerning IS funding , Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said in Moscow Wednesday that Russia is aware of three main oil smuggling routes to Turkey.
“Today, we are presenting only some of the facts that confirm that a whole team of bandits and Turkish elites stealing oil from their neighbors is operating in the region,” Antonov said, adding that this oil “in large quantities” enters the territory of Turkey via “live oil pipelines,” consisting of thousands of oil trucks.
“Revenues from the sale of oil are one of the most important sources of activity by terrorists in Syria. They earn around $2 billion annually, spending these funds on hiring militants from around the world and equipping them with weapons, equipment, and arms,” he said.
The ministry provided photographs of columns of oil fuel tankers on the Turkish-Syrian border. Fuel tankers with oil freely cross the border between Turkey and Iraq.
“According to our data, the top political leadership of the country – President Erdogan and his family – is involved in this criminal business,” Antonov said.
However, since the start of Russia’s anti-terrorist operation in Syria on September 30, the income of IS militants from illegal oil smuggling has been significantly reduced.
The Russian air strikes in Syria have caused a two-fold decline in Islamic State’s revenue from illegal oil trade, from $3 million to $1.5 million a day, chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian General Staff Sergey Rudskoi said.
“The revenue of this terrorist organisation reached $3 million a day. After two months of air strikes delivered by the Russian aircraft on the terrorists, their oil revenue declined to $1.5 million a day,” the official said.
According to Rudskoi, over the two months of Russia’s operation in Syria, Russian aircraft have destroyed 32 oil refining complexes of terrorists, 11 oil refineries, 23 oil pumping stations and more than 1,000 oil tank trucks.
At the same time, he added, the gangs “continue to receive considerable funds, as well as weapons, ammunition and other assets for their activity.”
The IS currently earns about $2 bln a year from illegal oil trade. Terrorists have no less than 8,500 fuel trucks, transport up to 20,000 barrels of oil daily.
The officer stressed that the international coalition led by the US does not destroy the terrorists’ gasoline tankers in Syria.
Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, which are banned in Russia, on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The air group initially comprised over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. They were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia.
On October 7, four missile ships of the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria. On October 8, the Syrian army passed to a large-scale offensive.
In mid-November, Russia increased the number of aircraft taking part in the operation in Syria to 69 and involved strategic bombers in strikes at militants.
The defence minister said Wednesday’s press briefing was not to force Turkish President Erdogan to resign by showing the world proof of Turkey’s illegal oil dealings with IS.
“We have presented evidence of how the illegal oil trade is being carried out to finance the terrorist groups,” Atonov said. “We know how much Ercdogan’s words are worth. His resignation is not our objective – it is up to the Turkish people.”
West does not seem to be bothered about Erdogan’s son’s role in the illegal oil trade, but Russian journalists are brave to tell the truth about Turkish crimes, he said.
“If they think these are fake evidences, let them make these areas available to journalists,” the Deputy Defense Minister said.