Russia’s defence ministry says it has proof Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his family are involved in the illegal smuggling of oil from Islamic State-held territory in Syria and Iraq.
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In a briefing in Moscow, defence ministry officials displayed satellite images which they said showed oil tankers heading from IS territory to Turkey.
The officials did not say what evidence they had that President Erdogan and his family were involved, an allegation he has strongly denied.
Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov said: “Turkey is the main consumer of the oil stolen from its rightful owners, Syria and Iraq.
“According to information we’ve received, the senior political leadership of the country – President Erdogan and his family – are involved in this criminal business.”
Mr Antonov said President Erdogan’s son, Bilal, headed a big energy company, while his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, had been appointed energy minister. “What a marvellous family business,” he added.
The ministry said the same criminal networks which were smuggling oil from Islamic State-held areas to Turkey were also supplying weapons, equipment and training to the extremist group.
Last week, President Erdogan said Turkey only bought oil from legitimate sources and was taking steps to combat smuggling. He called on those making the allegations to provide proof and said he would resign if the claims were shown to be true.
Moscow’s relationship with Ankara has deteriorated since Turkey shot down a Russian military plane on the Turkey/Syria border that it said had strayed into Turkish air space.
Last week’s confrontation is the most serious between a Nato member (Turkey) and Russia in half a century.
Russia and Turkey are also at odds over the Assad regime in Syria, which Moscow is trying to bolster and Ankara would like to see removed.