Russian intelligence officers say they have spotted approximately 12,000 tanker trucks carrying oil parked at the Turkish-Iraqi border.
Russian intelligence identified the oil route during reconnaissance missions, and Russia says the vehicles’ final destination was Turkey. It is widely believed that most ISIS oil goes to Turkey and is sold at low prices there.
Lieutenant-General Sergey Rudskoy said: “The [aerial] imagery was made in the vicinity of Zakho (a city in Iraqi Kurdistan), there were 11,775 tankers and trucks on both sides of the Turkish-Iraqi border. As many as 4,530 of them were on the territory of Turkey and 7,245 in Iraq,” according to a report on RT.com.
“It must be noted that oil from both Iraq and Syria come through this [Zakho] checkpoint,” Rudskoy added according to reports. A suggestion that this is a key ISIS oil route.
But the Iraq Kurds say it’s their oil and not Islamic State’s that’s parked at the border. Bloomberg reported:
Iraq Kurds say own oil pumped to Turkey, not Islamic State Crude.
Turkey closed border with Iraq during past few days due to war with Kurdish militants, causing long lines of oil tankers, Kifah Mahmoud, adviser to president of self-governed Kurdish region in north Iraq, says by phone.
Russian satellite images of the heavy-duty trucks show that the oil transportation route runs from Deir-ez-Zor province (an ISIS stonghold), through the outskirts of Syria and on to Mosul, Iraq, IBT reported. The path, which is locally known as the “eastern-route”, has been used by ISIS militants Russian intelligence says.
Moscow has been trading barbs with Turkey, accusing it of being involved in the oil trade with ISIS. Tensions have been running high since Turkish jets downed a Russian fighter jet – the two countries have taken turns trading accusations, and this is the latest in the saga.
It seems like the Russians may be right here. The Kurds say that none of the 12,000 tankers parked at Zakho contain any ISIS crude even though Kurdish security officials have said that Zakho is a key transit point for ISIS crude.
Further, as noted on Zerohedge, the timing is suspicious:
ISIS is losing ground and is on the verge of relinquishing Ramadi to Iraqi forces. One certainly wonders if the group’s funding needs are rising just as the Russians are cutting off their revenue stream forcing Baghdadi to get as much of the oil through as possible while he still can.
Finally, it’s also worth noting that there’s something nefarious about the whole thing. That is, the Peshmerga are paid out of money Erbil collects from selling Kurdish crude and the Peshmerga are fighting ISIS. It’s thus perverse that the Kurds apparently allow ISIS to use their transit routes on the way to securing the funding the group needs to keep fighting.
This kind of news could lead to Baghdad allowing Russian strikes over Iraq, and raises questions over how Russia will deal with the mixing of Kurdish and ISIS barrels as they strive to cut off the terrorist’s life blood.