Iraqi PM: Turkey Main Conduit for IS Oil Smuggling

Iraqi PM: Turkey Main Conduit for IS Oil SmugglingIraqi PM: Turkey Main Conduit for IS Oil Smuggling

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said most of the oil produced in the territory held by the Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria was being smuggled through Turkey.

In a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday, Abadi "stressed the importance of stopping oil smuggling by the terrorist gangs of Daesh, most of which is smuggled through Turkey", a statement on Abadi's website using an Arabic acronym of the militant group said, Reuters reported. Turkey has strongly denied any state involvement in smuggling oil from IS-controlled parts of Syria or Iraq, and says it has made progress in combating fuel smuggling networks that have operated on its borders for decades.

The Iraqi accusation comes at a time of heightened tension between Baghdad and Ankara, which deployed a heavily armed contingent of forces to a camp near the frontline in northern Iraq last week. Iraq says the deployment is a violation of its sovereignty and has threatened to refer the case to the United Nations Security Council unless Turkey withdraws its forces.

Abadi's remark also echoes recent accusations made by Russia that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family were personally benefiting from smuggling oil from IS-seized territory.  Erdogan denies the charges and has said he would stand down if such allegations were proven true.

The accusations about Turkey's role in smuggling oil came to the fore after Turkish jets downed a Russian bomber on the Syrian border, in the most serious incident between Russia and a NATO state in half a century.

A senior US State Department official played down the Russian allegations and said the amount of oil being smuggled into Turkey from Syria was not enough for anyone to profit from it significantly. US officials say coalition airstrikes have destroyed hundreds of IS oil trucks, depriving the insurgents of a key source of income.