ANKARA: The UN says Turkey is being used as a main route for smuggling weapons to terrorist groups operating in Iraq and Syria. Militant groups such as the ISIL and the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front in Iraq and Syria have been receiving weapons and equipment smuggled “primarily by routes that run through Turkey,” read a Tuesday report by the UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Implementation Monitoring Team.
They have also seized some of their weapons “from the armed forces of Iraq or (to a lesser extent) the Syrian Arab Republic,” the report added.
Senior Iraqi and Syrian officials have repeatedly criticized Turkey over links to the militants, including Turkish involvement in buying oil from both the ISIL and al-Nusra Front.
The ISIL militants “control a number of oil fields in Syria and Iraq and they smuggle this oil overland through trucks, through middlemen to Turkey or towards other countries,” Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari told Al-Jazeera news channel on December 12.
In September, EU Ambassador to Iraq Jana Hybas-kova revealed that some EU member states have purchased oil from the ISIL despite their rhetoric against the group.
US intelligence officials estimate that the Takfiri militants earn more than USD 3 million a day from illegal oil sales, theft, human trafficking and ransom. They say the militants sell oil and other products via established networks in Turkey, Jordan and Iraq’s Kurdistan region.
Turkey has denied reports of involvement in ISIL’s smuggling operations.
The ISIL militants control some parts of Syria and Iraq. They have engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control, including mass murdering local civilians as well as captured army and security officers while terrorizing people from diverse communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.