Russia Presents Proof of Turkey’s Role In ISIS Oil Trade

The Turkish-Syrian border map was displayed highlighting alleged ISIS oil routes
Russian Defense Minister and other leaders present proof of Turkey's involvement in ISIS oil ttade

Russian Defense Minister and other leaders present proof of Turkey’s involvement in ISIS oil ttade

MOSCOW (Reuters)–Russia’s defense ministry said on Wednesday it had proof that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his family were benefiting from the illegal smuggling of oil from Islamic State-held territory in Syria and Iraq.

Moscow and Ankara have been locked in a war of words since last week when a Turkish air force jet shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border, the most serious incident between Russia and a NATO state in half a century.

Erdogan responded by saying no one had the right to “slander” Turkey by accusing it of buying oil from Islamic State, and that he would stand down if such allegations were proven to be true. But speaking during a visit to Qatar, he also said he did not want relations with Moscow to worsen further.

At a briefing in Moscow, defense ministry officials displayed satellite images which they said showed columns of tanker trucks loading with oil at installations controlled by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and then crossing the border into neighboring Turkey.

The officials did not specify what direct evidence they had of the involvement of Erdogan and his family, an allegation that the Turkish president has vehemently denied.

“Turkey is the main consumer of the oil stolen from its rightful owners, Syria and Iraq. According to information we’ve received, the senior political leadership of the country – President Erdogan and his family – are involved in this criminal business,” said Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov.

“Maybe I’m being too blunt, but one can only entrust control over this thieving business to one’s closest associates.”

“In the West, no one has asked questions about the fact that the Turkish president’s son heads one of the biggest energy companies, or that his son-in-law has been appointed energy minister. What a marvelous family business!”

“The cynicism of the Turkish leadership knows no limits. Look what they’re doing. They went into someone else’s country, they are robbing it without compunction,” Antonov said.

Erdogan last week denied that Turkey procures oil from anything other than legitimate sources.

He has said Ankara is taking active steps to prevent fuel smuggling, and he challenged anyone who accused his government of collaborating with Islamic State to prove their allegations.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama said Turkey had made progress in sealing its border with Syria, but Islamic State was still exploiting gaps to bring in foreign fighters and sell oil.

Weapons Flow
The Russian defense ministry also alleged that the same criminal networks which were smuggling oil into Turkey were also supplying weapons, equipment and training to Islamic State and other Islamist groups.

“According to our reliable intelligence data, Turkey has been carrying out such operations for a long period and on a regular basis. And most importantly, it does not plan to stop them,” Sergei Rudskoy, deputy head of the Russian military’s General Staff, told reporters.

The defense ministry said its surveillance revealed that hundreds of tanker trucks were gathering in plain sight at Islamic State-controlled sites in Iraq and Syria to load up with oil, and it questioned why the U.S.-led coalition was not launching more air strikes on them.

“It’s hard not to notice them,” Rudskoy said of the lines of trucks shown on satellite images.

Officials said that the Russian air force’s bombing campaign had made a significant dent in Islamic State’s ability to produce, refine and sell oil.

Smuggling Routes
Ministry officials described three main routes by which they said oil and oil products were smuggled from Islamic State territory into Turkey.

It said the Western route took oil produced at fields near the Syrian city of Raqqa to the settlement of Azaz on the border with Turkey.

From there the columns of tanker trucks pass through the Turkish town of Reyhanli, the ministry said, citing what it said were satellite pictures of hundreds of such trucks moving through the border crossing without obstruction.

“There is no inspection of the vehicles carried out … on the Turkish side,” said Rudskoy.

Some of the smuggled cargoes go to the Turkish domestic market, while some is exported via the Turkish Mediterranean ports of Iskenderun and Dortyol, the ministry said.

Another main route for smuggled oil, according to the ministry, runs from Deir Ez-zour in Syria to the Syrian border crossing at Al-Qamishli. It said the trucks then took the crude for refining at the Turkish city of Batman.

A third route took oil from eastern Syria and western Iraq into the south-eastern corner of Turkey, the ministry said.

It said its satellite surveillance had captured hundreds of trucks crossing the border in that area back in the summer, and that since then there had been no reduction in the flow.

The defense ministry officials said the information they released on Wednesday was only part of the evidence they have in their possession, and that they would be releasing further intelligence in the next days and weeks.

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10 Comments

  1. Original Armenian said:

    This all seems too unprofessional. I’m not defending any one side, but it’s obvious that the Russians are trying hard to provide anecdotal evidence at best. All this evidence is really based on opinion, conjecture, and hearsay. There is no solid proof or a smoking gun. The evidence presented will never stand up in a court of law. It’s mostly based on inconclusive or incomplete evidence and guesswork.

    On one hand, Erdogan is being portrayed as a shrewd fox and on the other they’re claiming all this is happening in plain site? Plus, why would the fox express so much confidence when knowing very well that in today’s world there is something called satellite image technology? How naive does Erdogan have to be to smuggle oil, transfer weapons, facilitate troop movements, shoot down jets and then not realize he’ll be exposed? How is it that Russia new about all of this and never acted to reveal it in the past? These are just some of the questions that are desperately in need of clarification.

    The contact point between these two warring parties is Armenia. By extension, Russia borders Turkey through our territory. Any future ground military action would undoubtedly involve Armenian territory. It’s best if we stayed out of this conflict and remain neutral. We can not afford to capitalize on this situation. The memory of the last time we tried to take sides is still vivid and crystal clear.

  2. Original Armenian said:

    This all seems too unprofessional. I’m not defending any one side, but it’s obvious that the Russians are trying hard to provide anecdotal evidence at best. All this evidence is really based on opinion, conjecture, and hearsay. There is no solid proof or a smoking gun. The evidence presented will never stand up in a court of law. It’s mostly based on inconclusive or incomplete evidence and guesswork.

    On one hand, Erdogan is being portrayed as a shrewd fox and on the other they’re claiming all this is happening in plain site? Plus, why would the fox express so much confidence when knowing very well that in today’s world there is something called satellite image technology? How naive does Erdogan have to be to smuggle oil, transfer weapons, facilitate troop movements, shoot down jets and then not realize he’ll be exposed? How is it that Russia knew about all of this and never acted to reveal it in the past? These are just some of the questions that are desperately in need of clarification.

    The contact point between these two warring parties is Armenia. By extension, Russia borders Turkey through our territory. Any future ground military action would undoubtedly involve Armenian territory. It’s best if we stayed out of this conflict and remain neutral. We can not afford to capitalize on this situation. The memory of the last time we tried to take sides is still vividly crystal clear.

  3. ayp pen said:

    This has been a war between turkey and Syria from the start. All of the industrial equipment from Haleb (Aleppo) went to turkey at the start…who complained then? Of course the trade didn’t stop. The turks stole our business acumen also.

  4. zarkim said:

    Putin has satellite technology and a very strong network of spies in the area.
    WE have in numerous occasions reported that Turkey is systematically looting Syria. Looting oil, money and anything else of value.
    So, this public knowledge must have also come to Putin’s attention at least 3 years ago.
    .
    So.
    .
    Why did Putin do nothing about this before?
    What Putin is saying is TRUE. However, he has kept it a secret for a long time. Why?
    Erdogan wants to resign to save his neck. Turkish people should arrest Erdogan and his Son for thieving.
    .
    Putin should have been honest and should have reported Erdogan’s family year ago.

  5. ara said:

    I guess the turks of today that lead the country and their natiuonalistic supporters of genocide and the like think the Russians and the rest of us are stupid- well turk-u will eat and bite ur words-it is obvious-u can fool and get support by Obama cuz he knows nothn-but the russians and us armenians-well we know who u r-dirty evil and supporters of the bastahds that will be decimated till death due them part

  6. zorik said:

    Turkey is the main problem in Middle east. Erdoghan and his administration should go not Bashar Al Asad.

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