Oil smuggled into Turkey not adequate to be lucrative: U.S. official

WASHINGTON The quantity of oil becoming smuggled into Turkey from Syria was not sufficient for anyone to profit from it drastically, a senior U.S. State Division official said on Friday, rejecting claims by Russia that prime Turkish officials had been benefitting by smuggling oil from areas of Syria controlled by Islamic State.

The official, speaking on situation of anonymity, stated the United States believed most of the oil smuggled from Islamic State-controlled regions was going into Syrian government-controlled territory and some into Iraq.

The Russian defense ministry claimed this week that it has proof Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his loved ones had been benefitting from smuggling oil from Islamic State-held territory. Erdogan denied the charges, saying he would stand down if such allegations have been verified correct.

“Our assessment is that there is not a lot of smuggling happening of any important volume in between ISIL controlled territories and Turkey,” the official stated. “The volume itself of the oil getting smuggled is really low and has decreased more than time.”

The official estimated that to smuggle about 20,000 barrels of oil into Turkey per day it would take about 1,000 trucks, a number that had not been seen crossing the border.

“The economics never make sense for that to take place,” the official said. “The proof doesn’t suggest that we would see thousands of trucks going by means of this territory and it would have to cross numerous distinct areas of handle, and at every point have to pay fees.”

“I do not see a lot of narrative in the argument that there is considerable smuggling going,” the official added.

Although the official acknowledged that some smuggling was occurring in between the neighbors, he flatly rejected that it was of any considerable volume that would be lucrative.

“The oil is getting consumed almost completely inside areas of handle of Syria and trading with the regime” of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the official stated, adding, “ISIL is promoting it into the economy.”

U.S., French and British jets have targeted Islamic-controlled oil fields in Syria as element of a campaign to reduce the financial lifeline of the militant group. Hours soon after the British parliament agreed to join a coalition fighting the militant group, British bombers attacked six targets in the Omar oil fields in eastern Syria controlled by Islamic State.

U.S. officials have stated that images posted by Russia of oil tankers crossing into Turkey from Syria have been dated and had been not of trucks crossing the border into Turkey.

“What I have not observed is imagery of the border crossing with trucks crossing the border, and that’s simply because I don’t think that exists,” the official added.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton)

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