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IS produces 40-50 million barrels of oil a day — Russian Foreign Ministry

November 20, 2015, 8:51 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Motives of the West's airstrikes on IS-controlled oil infrastructure facilities in Syria and Iraq raise questions, head of Russian Foreign Ministry’s department for new challenges and threats says

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© AP Photo/Bram Janssen, Archive

MOSCOW, November 20. /TASS/ The Islamic State terrorist group produces 40,000 - 50,000 barrels of oil per day, head of Russian Foreign Ministry’s department for new challenges and threats Ilya Rogachev said in an interview published by the Kommersant daily on Friday.

"If a year ago experts said that IS produced 30,000 barrels a day then now the figure is 40,000 - 50,000 barrels," the diplomat said. "And the UN Security Council Resolution 2199 recognized that illegal oil trade is the main source of income for IS and obligated all States to decisively counteract it."

Rogachev also drew attention to the fact that the IS group has increased the number of militants and at least "has not lost territory."

Motives of Western coalition attacks on IS oil infrastructure raise questions

Russia has questions concerning the motives of the Western coalition delivering airstrikes on oil infrastructure facilities in the regions of Syria and Iraq that are controlled by the IS terrorist group, head of Russian Foreign Ministry’s department for new challenges and threats Ilya Rogachev went on to say.

"For more than a year of bombing the US-led coalition has virtually caused no damage to it [IS oil infrastructure]," he said. "It has made almost 8,000 sorties and in nearly a quarter of cases the planes returned without expending all ammunition, that is, finding no targets for attack. Meanwhile, the IS terrorists continued extracting oil from the oil-bearing fields and were building new, albeit makeshift, oil processing plants, and thousands of tanker trucks were moving across the region."

Regarding the French airstrikes on the oil infrastructure controlled by the Islamic State, Rogachev suggested that "the French partners proceed from the inevitable successful of the Syrian army’s offensive and the imminent return of the oil fields and oil production capacities under the control of the Syrian government." "Since [Syrian President] Bashar Assad and IS are for them opponents of equal priority, then by these airstrikes they simultaneously damage both," he said. "Note that the French aircraft do not bomb similar targets in Iraq."

The diplomat added that the Western experts have also drawn attention to the ambiguity of the situation. "Perhaps in response to the comments of their own political observers, the Americans have ‘awaken’ and finally attacked the oil industry facilities in Iraq," he said. "But it is impossible not to notice that even these steps were taken by the coalition under the influence of the decisive and effective actions of the Russian aerospace forces."

"Against this background, one can't help but wonder: has the coalition at all aimed to inflict a military defeat of IS?" Rogachev said.

Russian military operation in Syria

Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The air group comprises over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. They were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia.

On October 7, four missile ships of the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria. On October 8, the Syrian army passed to a large-scale offensive. Over 2,000 terrorist facilities have been destroyed by Russian aircraft since the start of the air operation. The Russian Federation does not plan to take part in ground operations in Syria.

According to UN statistics, fighting between Syrian government troops and militants has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions since its start in 2011.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently gave instructions to intensify strikes delivered by Russian aircraft in Syria after Federal Security Service (FSB) chief Alexander Bortnikov reported that the crash of Russia’s A321 airliner above the Sinai Peninsula on October 31 was caused by a terrorist act carried out with the help of a homemade explosive device.

A total of 224 people were killed, making the air crash the largest in the history of domestic aviation. Following the tragedy, Russia suspended flights to Egypt.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin November 17 that Russia has involved strategic and long-range aircraft in strikes against the Islamic State in Syria. "Tu-160, Tu-95MS, Tu-22M3 aircraft of long-range aviation, along with operational and tactical aviation acting from the Khmeimim airfield, have been additionally involved from the Russian territory to destroy gangs," Shoigu said.

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