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Turkish leader’s son denies Russian allegations of Islamic State trade

ROME The son of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has denied Russian allegations that he and his household had been profiting from the illegal smuggling of oil from Islamic State-held territory in Syria and Iraq.

Russia’s defense ministry said last week it had proof that the Erdogan family members was benefiting from this trade. Turkey has already dismissed the accusations and the president’s son Bilal added his voice to the numerous denials.

“We develop offices in Istanbul … We do not do business in the Mediterranean, in Syria or Iraq,” he was quoted as saying in Corriere della Sera newspaper, speaking about his own corporate issues, which have been referred to as into question by Russian media.

“ISIS is an enemy of my country. ISIS is a disgrace. It puts my religion in a undesirable light. They never represent Islam and I do not contemplate them to be Muslims,” he stated, referring to Islamic State by a single of its numerous acronyms.

1 of the four kids of President Erdogan, Bilal has shipping and maritime assets and controls numerous oil tankers via his company and partnerships in other firms.

However, he denied he had any operational shipping activities, saying his company had a contract to develop “river tankers” for a Russian client, but that it did not operate the ships itself. He also denied that his brother Burak might have transported oil from lands controlled by Islamic State.

“He has a cargo ship, but it can’t be used as a tanker.”

As an alternative, he stated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was profiting from the sale of Islamic State oil. “If you stick to ISIS oil, you will find Assad.”

Damascus has previously accused the Turkish government, which is hostile to Assad, of permitting Islamic State insurgents to smuggle contraband out of northern Syria.

Relations among Turkey and Russia have chilled sharply right after Turkey final month shot down a Russian warplane that it said had crossed into its air space from Syria.

“What happened concerning the Russian jet was unpleasant, but we have to concentrate on the actual troubles: ISIS and the future of Syria,” Bilal Erdogan stated.

Russian media reports suggested that Bilal was straight involved in oil trade with Islamic State and that Turkey downed the Russian jet to defend this oil smuggling company.

Bilal came to Italy earlier this year with his wife and family to finish doctorate research in the city of Bologna. Critics accused him of fleeing Turkey in the wake of preceding graft scandals. He denied any wrongdoing and mentioned he was in Italy to concentrate on his studies.

(Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk Writing by Crispian Balmer Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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