Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims reach out to touch the tomb of Imam al-Abbas located inside the Imam al-Abbas shrine to mark Arbain in the holy city of Kerbala, southwest of Baghdad December 13, 2014. Iraqi officials say millions of Shi'ite pilgrims from across Iraq and neighbouring countries are expected in Kerbala for Saturday's Arbain ritual, which marks the last of 40 days mourning for the death 1,300 years ago of Imam Hussein. REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags: RELIGION) Image Credit: REUTERS

Baghdad: Iraqi finance minister Hoshyar Zebari has said that the Daesh is smuggling Iraqi and Syrian oil via Turkey, and called it the richest terrorist group in the world.

“Daesh controls a number of oilfields in Syria and Iraq and they smuggle this oil overland through trucks, through middlemen to Turkey or towards other countries,” Zebari told Al Jazeera news channel Friday.

After an accounting of banks under Daesh control, Zebari said that Daesh is now believed to have looted about $500 million from Mosul, Tikrit and other cities, saying it was “the richest armed group in the world”.

He said Iraq was trying to crack down on Daesh financing, including oil smuggling.

“The air campaign targets these facilities in Syria and in northern Iraq in order to deprive them of this revenue but they have enormous financial resources; they are paying recruits good salaries, better than what we can afford to pay ours,” he added.

“And this is one element of the strength of this organisation. It’s not purely an underground terrorist organisation. It has an agenda it wants to control. It wants to rule.”

He also rejected comments by US officials that the fight against the Daesh could take years.

“Contrary to what many people think, I don’t think this will be a long drawn out battle,” the minister said.

The comments came after the Iraqi army managed to liberate two key districts in the city of Samarra on Friday.

He added that coordination between Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition is the key to the success of the offensive against the radical group.