The Russian Defense Ministry have said they have evidence that Turkey’s leadership, including President Erdogan and his family, are personally involved in illegal oil trade with Islamic State militants.
Russian military chiefs publicly accused the Turkish government of funnelling millions of dollars in illicit oil revenues to ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq, in a dramatic escalation of tensions between the two countries.
Following a briefing in Moscow on Wednesday, the ministry presented their new findings concerning ISIS funding and stress that Turkey is the final destination for oil smuggled from Syria and Iraq.
The photos and footage used in the media briefing have been published on the Defense Ministry’s website.
Deputy Defense Minister, Anatoly Antonov said “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 continues, setting up a lengthy presentation in which the MoD shows photos of oil trucks, videos of airstrikes and maps detailing the trafficking of stolen oil.
The clip below is presented with an English voice-over:
RT reports: Antonov added that Turkey is the main buyer of smuggled oil coming from Iraq and Syria.
“According to our data, the top political leadership of the country – President Erdogan and his family – is involved in this criminal business.”
However, since the start of Russia’s anti-terrorist operation in Syria on September 30, the income of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants from illegal oil smuggling has been significantly reduced, the ministry said.
“The income of this terrorist organization was about $3 million per day. After two months of Russian airstrikes their income was about $1.5 million a day,” Lieutenant-General Sergey Rudskoy said.
At the briefing the ministry presented photos of oil trucks, videos of airstrikes on IS oil storage facilities and maps detailing the movement of smuggled oil. More evidence is to be published on the ministry’s website in the coming says, Rudskoy said.
The US-led coalition is not bombing IS oil trucks, Rudskoy said.
For the past two months, Russia’s airstrikes hit 32 oil complexes, 11 refineries, 23 oil pumping stations, Rudskoy said, adding that the Russian military had also destroyed 1,080 trucks carrying oil products.
“These [airstrikes] helped reduce the trade of the oil illegally extracted on the Syrian territory by almost 50 percent.”
Up to 2,000 fighters, 120 tons of ammunition and 250 vehicles have been delivered to Islamic State and Al-Nusra militants from Turkish territory, chief of National Centre for State Defense Control Lt.Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said.
“According to reliable intelligence reports, the Turkish side has been taking such actions for a long time and on a regular basis. And most importantly, it is not planning to stop them.”
“One thing is clear. The role that Turkey is playing in this area is in many ways destructive and it’s affecting the European security, it’s affecting its neighbors. Ultimately it’s affecting its own society,” Uzi Arad, former head of research at Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency told RT.
Responding to the Russian allegations, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that nobody had a right to “slander” Turkey by accusing it of buying oil from Islamic State.