Report: Turkey, Syria Helped Keep Islamic State Alive by Buying Their Oil

Iraqi fighters of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units) stand next to a wall bearing the Islamic State (IS) group flag as they enter the city of al-Qaim, in Iraq's western Anbar province near the Syrian border as they fight against remnant pockets of Islamic State group jihadists on November …
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) sold illegally obtained gas and oil to the Russian- and Iranian-backed Syrian regime as well as to Turkey while it ruled Iraq and Syria, Kurdistan 24 learned from a jailed senior commander from the jihadist group.

“Oil and gas obtained by the Islamic State [were] sold to Turkey and the Syrian regime,” Razeek Radeek Maksimo, an Azerbaijani ISIS senior commander, asserted while speaking from a Syrian Kurdistan jail. “[Oil] was sold to Turkey through the Free Syrian Army (FSA).”

The FSA, which once received U.S. assistance, is now fighting Assad in Syria with the support of Turkey.

At the peak of ISIS’s power, oil was the group’s top source of income. A Top U.S. Treasury official described the jihadi group in 2014 as “probably the best-funded terrorist organization we have confronted,” citing oil as its primary source of revenue.

After Turkey shot down a Russian warplane in 2015, Kremlin officials accused Ankara of sheltering ISIS and benefiting from its oil sales. Turkey has denied the accusations.

More recently, in early 2017, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that ISIS had boosted its oil and gas sales to the regime of Russian and Iranian-backed Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, noting that the terrorist group was “providing vital fuel to the government in return for desperately needed cash.”

Maksimo tells Kurdistan 24 that there was communication between ISIS, Turkey, and the Assad regime.

Over the past three years, the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) considered terrorists by Turkey had reportedly arrested dozens of ISIS commanders and fighters.

“As IS continues to be defeated and degraded, notably since their major loss in Raqqa last October, the fate of prisoners remains unclear,” notes Kurdistan 24. “For foreign fighters, locals forces are unaware if the home nations will repatriate them for trial or no longer recognize their citizens.”

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