US categorically rejects alleged Turkish involvement in ISIL oil trade

The United States on Wednesday flatly rejected Russian allegations that the Turkish government was in league with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants to smuggle oil from Syria. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a news briefing that US information was that Islamic State was selling oil at the wellheads to middlemen who in turn were involved in smuggling the oil across the frontier into Turkey.

“We reject outright the premise that the Turkish government is in league with ISIL to smuggle oil across its borders,” Toner said, using an acronym for the militant group. “We frankly see no evidence, none, to support such an accusation.” 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.

Erdogan earlier rejected Russian claims that he and his family are profiting from trade in oil with the ISIL group. “No one has the right to make such a slander as to suggest that Turkey buys Daesh’s oil,” said ErdoGan, speaking in Qatar and using an Arabic acronym for the ISIL group.

“Turkey has not lost its moral values as to buy oil from a terror organization… Those who make such slanderous claims are obliged to prove them. If they do I would not remain on the presidential seat for one minute. But those who make the claim must also give up their seat if they can’t prove it. ”

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov and his colleagues on Wednesday showed foreign defense attaches based in Moscow satellite images purporting to show IS transporting oil to Turkey.

Relations between Turkey and Russia have fallen to a low point since Turkey shot down a Russian jet that it claimed had encroached into Turkish airspace.