MOSCOW: Turkey’s leadership – including President Erdogan and his family – is involved in illegal oil business with the Islamic State militant group, Russia’s defence ministry said on Wednesday, stressing that Turkey was the final destination for oil smuggled from Syria and Iraq.The Russian defence ministry held a major briefing on new findings concerning the militant group’s funding in Moscow on Wednesday, the Russia Today channel reported. According to Deputy Minister for Defence Anatoly Antonov, Russia was 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.He said that Turkey was 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,” he said.However, since the start of Russia’s anti-terrorist operation in Syria on September 30, the income of Islamic State militant group from illegal oil smuggling has been significantly reduced, the ministry said.“The income of this terrorist organisation 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 the militant group’oil store 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.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 per cent,” he said.
Up to 2,000 fighters, 120 tonnes of ammunition and 250 vehicles have been delivered to the Islamic State and Al-Nusra militants from Turkish territory, chief of National Centre for State Defence 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,” he said.