Russia says it is in possession of evidence that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family are involved in the illegal smuggling of oil from territories held by Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
Officials of the Russian Defense Ministry made the announcement during a briefing in the capital of Moscow on Wednesday showing satellite images to support their claim.
In the photos, columns of tanker trucks can be seen which are purportedly loading oil at installations controlled by Daesh in Syria and Iraq, before entering neighboring Turkey.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, meanwhile, denounced Ankara as the main consumer of the oil “stolen from its rightful owners, Syria and Iraq,” and added that President Erdogan and his family are involved in this “criminal business.”
The Turkish leader, who is on a visit to Qatar, also on Wednesday accused Moscow of slander, saying, “No one has a right to engage in slander against Turkey by saying that Turkey is buying oil from Daesh.”
"Maybe I'm being too blunt, but one can only entrust control over this thieving business to one's closest associates,” Antonov said, adding, "In the West, no one has asked questions about the fact that the Turkish president's son heads one of the biggest energy companies, or that his son-in-law has been appointed energy minister. What a marvelous family business!"
The ministry further said that the same networks smuggling oil from Daesh-held areas into Turkey are also providing the militant group with weapons, equipment and training.
Erdogan vows to resign
The development came after Erdogan said he is prepared to step down if accusations by Russia that Ankara has traded oil with the Daesh terrorist group are proved right.
“I will say something very strong here. If such a thing is proven, the nobility of our nation would require that I would not stay in office,” the Turkish state-run Anatolia news agency quoted Erdogan as making the remark on the sidelines of a United Nations’ climate conference in the French capital, Paris, on Monday.
He was responding to an announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin also made on the sidelines of the UN summit that Moscow had received information confirming Daesh conducted sales of “oil in huge quantities, on an industrial scale,” via Turkey.
Moscow and Ankara are locked in a war of words since November 24 when Turkey downed a Russian warplane inside Syria, claiming that it had entered Turkish airspace, an allegation strongly rejected by Moscow. Russia is carrying out airstrikes against terrorist groups, including Daesh, in Syria.
Putin has also accused Turkey of downing the jet in order to protect supplies of oil from Daesh militants to Turkish territories.