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UN condemns terrorist oil sales from Iraq, Syria

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned any sale of oil from Syria or Iraq by terrorist groups and reminded all countries that buying the illegally obtained oil violates U.N. sanctions.

A presidential statement approved by all 15 council members targets two terrorist groups already subject to U.N. sanctions: Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the most powerful Syrian rebel groups; and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, which has seized a wide swath of territory in eastern Syria and western Iraq and now calls itself the Islamic State.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow had evidence before it proposed the draft statement in late June that the Islamic State group and Jabhat al-Nusra "were engaged in the trade of oil" which was one source of financing for their terrorist activities.

The statement expresses "grave concern" at reports that these two groups have seized oilfields and pipelines in Syria and Iraq and warns that they could face further sanctions.

It expresses concern that oilfields or infrastructure controlled by terrorist organizations "could generate material income for terrorists, which would support their recruitment efforts, including of foreign terrorist fighters, and strengthen their operational capability to organize and carry out terrorist attacks."

When the draft resolution was circulated in late June, Churkin warned that with the Islamic State group's advances there is a real prospect of a terrorist state springing up from Syria's second-largest city Aleppo to Iraq's capital Baghdad.

Churkin said Monday he was pleased at the adoption of the statement though he said Russia would have liked "a much broader, stronger statement," and he criticized the United States for "trying to water it down."

A U.S. official said the original Russian draft went beyond expressing grave concern at the two terrorist groups gaining access to oil revenue.

"It was our position, and the position of others, that this statement would be strongest if it were tailored directly to the situation in Iraq and Syria for which it was intended," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

The original draft only mentioned oil fields in Syria, a close Russian ally, but Iraq was added during negotiations on the final text.

The Security Council reminded all countries "that they are required to ensure that their nationals and any persons within their territory not engage in any commercial or financial transactions" with Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State terrorist groups, "notably with respect to oil in Syria and Iraq."

It also emphasized that all 193 U.N. member states must ensure that no one living in their country makes donations to individuals, organizations, groups and other entities on the U.N. sanctions blacklist.

Presidential statements are a step below resolutions and are not legally binding but they do become part of the Security Council's official record and must be approved by all 15 council members.

The presidential statement refers to several previous Security Council resolutions, including one in January reaffirming that all countries are required to prevent the financing of terrorism and one in June on sanctions against al-Qaida.

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