ANKARA/MOSCOW (Web Desk/APP) – Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has dismissed Russian allegations that Turkey was buying oil from Islamic State as “Soviet-style propaganda”, saying the NATO member was doing all it could to secure its border with Syria.
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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.
Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said 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.
On the other hand, Turkish PM Davutoglu said a rejection of Russia’s claims by the United States was further evidence that Moscow was peddling a fabricated narrative.
“In the Cold War period there was a Soviet propaganda machine. Every day it created different lies. Firstly they would believe them and then expect the world to believe them. These were remembered as Pravda lies and nonsense,” Davutoglu said.
“This was an old tradition but it has suddenly reared its head again. Nobody attaches any value to the lies of this Soviet-style propaganda machine,” he told a news conference before leaving on an official visit to Azerbaijan.
‘Allah took their sanity’
Russian President Vladimir Putin also lashed out at “part of the leadership in Turkey” during his annual address to the parliament on Thursday. He also promised more sanctions for Turkey over downing of the Russian jet.
Putin said Russia still cannot comprehend why the downing of the plane happened. “We were prepared to cooperate with Turkey on most sensitive issues and go further than their allies. Allah knows why they did it. Apparently Allah decided to punish the ruling clique in Turkey by taking their sanity,” Putin said.
On Wednesday, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that Washington rejected the premise that the Turkish government was in league with the militants to smuggle oil, saying it saw no evidence to support such an accusation.
But President Barack Obama and other senior US officials have also voiced frustration in recent days at lingering gaps in security along a roughly 100 km (62-mile) stretch of Turkey’s border with Syrian territory controlled by Islamic State.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Wednesday that some areas were still not properly secured.
Davutoglu said Turkey was doing all it can and is setting up “physical barriers” on that stretch of border. He said Turkey was working with coalition partners to try to remove Islamic State fighters from the Syrian side.
“98 km of the border is under Deash control, physical barriers are being setting up here,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
“Turkey is undertaking all kinds of work with coalition elements to remove Deash from the border in the period ahead.”