11:51 GMT09 May 2021
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    While Russia only recently revealed evidence of Turkey’s involvement in terrorist oil smuggling, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow has long known about the issue, but until recently did not want to believe that Ankara was as deeply involved as it seems to be.

    As Daesh, also known as ISIL/the Islamic State, spreads its terror across the globe, its operations are financed primarily through illegal oil trade. Extracting crude from fields in Iraq and Syria, the terrorist group earns, roughly, $3 million per day.

    Earlier this month, Russia presented satellite images which show how that the oil is being sold via smuggling routes through Turkey.

    While Ankara has denied its role in Daesh’s oil trade, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said these allegations were a long time coming.

    "Frankly, we have known for a long time how Turkish territory is being used for commercial operations with ISIS (Daesh), for the transfer of weapons and terrorists to Syria, as well as to provide extremists and militants with an opportunity to heal and rest, and then get ready for new operations, not only in Syria, but also in other regions, including our North Caucasus," he said in an interview with Italian media on Wednesday.

    Lavrov also linked Turkey’s illicit activities to the downing of the Russian Su-24 warplane in Syrian airspace last month.

    In this file photo released on June 16, 2015, by Ismamic State militant group supporters on an anonymous photo sharing website, Islamic State militants clean their weapons in Deir el-Zour city, Syria
    © AP Photo / militant photo via AP, File

    "We see no other explanation other than a desire [by Turkey] to disrupt counterterrorism efforts and make them less effective, or to prevent the Russian Federation from working in Syrian airspace, or perhaps even to derail the political process beginning to take shape on the basis of the Vienna agreement," Lavrov said.

    The foreign minister also asked "why is it [Turkey is] not bombing terrorists as such, but the Kurds instead?"

    A number of other countries have also put forth evidence of Ankara’s dealings. Most notable, perhaps, are allegations from the Iranian government.

    "Iranian military advisors in Syria have taken photos and filmed the routes used by ISIL’s oil tankers to Turkey," Iran’s Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaie told reporters on Friday.

    "If the Turkish authorities are unaware of the Daesh oil sales in their country, then we can provide them with such intelligence."

    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has also supported Russia’s claims. A statement on the prime minister’s website "stressed the importance of stopping oil smuggling by the terrorist gangs of Daesh, most of which is smuggled through Turkey."

    Turkey, part of the US-led bombing coalition, has denied any affiliations with Daesh, and has instead blamed the Syrian government of dealing in illegal oil. Ankara has not offered any evidence for those claims.


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    Daesh, oil smuggling, illegal oil trafficking, Mohsen Rezaie, Haider al-Abadi, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Sergei Lavrov, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Russia
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