Islamic State militants are engaged in oil trading worth as much as US$40 million a month with significant volumes sold to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and some finding its way across the border into Turkey, a senior US Treasury official said.
“[Islamic State] is selling a great deal of oil to the Assad regime,” Reuters quoted Adam Szubin, acting US Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, as saying in London on Thursday.
“The two are trying to slaughter each other and they are still engaged in millions and millions of dollars of trade.”
“The volumes we are talking about and the amounts of money we are talking about are very sizeable,” he said.
Szubin said the “far greater amount” of Islamic State oil ends up under Assad’s control while some is consumed internally in Islamic State areas but some ends up in Kurdish regions and Turkey.
“Some is coming across the border into Turkey,” Szubin said.
Islamic State militants have made more than US$500 million from black market oil sales and looted up to US$1 billion from bank vaults in Syria and Iraq, he said in prepared remarks.
“Our sense is that [Islamic State] is taking its profits basically at the wellhead and so while you do have [Islamic State] oil ending up in a variety of different places that’s not really the pressure we want when it comes to stemming the flow of funding — it really comes down to taking down their infrastructure,” he said.
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