Fellow pilots, acting as pall bearers, carry the coffin holding the body of Oleg Peshkov, a Russian pilot of the downed SU-24 jet, during a funeral ceremony in Lipetsk, Russia, December 2, 2015. Peshkov was awarded the Hero of Russia award posthumously. Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev
Russia’s defence ministry said on Wednesday it had proof that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his family were benefiting from the illegal smuggling of oil from Islamic State-held territory in Syria and Iraq.
Moscow and Ankara have been locked in a war of words since last week when a Turkish air force jet shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Russian border, the most serious incident between Russia and a NATO state in half a century.
In a briefing in Moscow, defence ministry officials displayed satellite images which they said showed columns of tanker trucks loading with oil at installations controlled by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and then crossing the border into neighbouring Turkey.
The officials did not specify what direct evidence they had of the involvement of Erdogan and his family, an allegation that the Turkish president has vehemently denied.
“Turkey is the main consumer of the oil stolen from its rightful owners, Syria and Iraq. According to information we’ve received, the senior political leadership of the country – President Erdogan and his family – are involved in this criminal business,” said Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov.
“Maybe I’m being too blunt, but one can only entrust control over…