– Islamic State oil is going to Assad, some to Turkey, U.S. official says
– Kurds report ISIS bombs kill 50 people in northern Syrian town
– Kerry says “kinks” in Syrian opposition framework
– UN aid chief to visit Syria over the weekend
– Putin urges military to destroy threats to forces in Syria
– Over 600 migrants seized by police in western Turkey
– Iraq’s top Shiite cleric speaks out against Turkish troops

Islamic State oil is going to Assad, some to Turkey, U.S. official says
Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) militants have made more than $500 million trading oil with significant volumes sold to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and some finding its way to Turkey, Acting Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the Treasury Department Adam Szubin said Thursday. He said ISIS is selling as much as $40 million a month of oil, which is transported on trucks across the battlelines of the Syrian civil war. The “far greater amount” of ISIS oil ends up under Assad’s control, while some is consumed internally in ISIS-controlled areas. Some ends up in Kurdish regions and in Turkey, he said. “There is no question that better security, closing the Turkish border to flows is a key component right now and we are looking to the Turks to do more in that respect,” Szubin said. “It’s not just a financial issue-it is about foreign terrorist flows, it’s about weapons and it’s about financing.” [Reuters, 12/11/2015]

Kurds report ISIS bombs kill 50 people in northern Syrian town
A triple truck bomb attack claimed by ISIS in northeastern Syria killed at least 50 people and wounded 80 others, a spokesman for the Kurdish militia that controls the area said on Friday. The town in the northeastern province of Hasaka is controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which has been battling ISIS with the support of US-led air strikes. The three blasts, carried out by at least two suicide bombers, struck outside a hospital, a marketplace, and in a residential area in the town of Tel Tamer late on Thursday. [Reuters, 12/11/2015]

Kerry says “kinks” in Syrian opposition framework
Speaking Friday on the sidelines of global climate talks outside Paris, US Secretary of State John Kerry said there are some questions and “kinks to be worked out” in the agreement put together at an opposition meeting in Saudi Arabia. Those must be addressed if a planned high-level diplomatic conference is to be held as scheduled at the United Nations later this month. Syrian opposition factions agreed Thursday on a framework that would guide proposed UN-backed peace talks with the government. Members of Syria’s opposition groups agreed Thursday to enter peace talks with the regime on the condition that the negotiations lead to President Bashar al-Assad giving up power-a stance expected to face strong resistance from regime allies Russia and Iran. The agreement, following a day of talks in Saudi Arabia with more than 100 members of various opposition groups, calls for the creation of a Riyadh-based committee that would choose delegates to represent the opposition at UN-mediated negotiations with the regime. However, one powerful insurgent faction, Ahrar al-Sham, pulled out of the talks to protest the role given to groups it said are close to the Syrian government. [AP, WSJ, 12/11/2015]

UN aid chief to visit Syria over the weekend
UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien will travel to Syria this weekend to meet senior government officials to discuss how to boost aid to 13.5 million people in need of assistance. As well as visiting Damascus, O’Brien may make field visits depending on the security situation, his spokesman Jens Laerke said. He last went to Syria in August, shortly after taking up his post. “He is going there of course to see for himself the situation on the ground, what aid agencies are doing and particularly to try to refocus the world’s attention on the plight of some 13.5 million people inside Syria who are in desperate need of aid and protection,” Laerke told reporters in Geneva. O’Brien told Reuters that he is hopeful of seeing more local ceasefires similar to a deal agreed this week to end fighting in the Waer district of the city of Homs. [Reuters, 12/11/2015]

Putin urges military to destroy threats to forces in Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday vowed to further modernize Russia’s military and said that its forces in Syria will “immediately destroy” any target threatening them, a strong warning to Turkey following its downing of a Russian warplane at the Syrian border. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country is refraining from responding to Russian efforts to hit back at Turkey, but says the country’s patience is not without limits. Cavusoglu said Friday that Turkey wants to overcome tensions with Russia but that Moscow is using “every opportunity” to hit at Turkey. [AP, 12/11/2015]

Over 600 migrants seized by police in western Turkey
More than 600 migrants have been seized by security forces in western Turkey over the past two days, as well as at least 12 human traffickers. The number of migrants saved after making failed attempts to cross via sea from Turkey into Europe has increased by over 500 percent in 2015 compared to last year. A total of 79,489 migrants have been rescued by Turkey’s coast guard and local institutions in 2015 in 2,133 incidents. [Hurriyet, 12/11/2015]

Iraq’s top Shiite cleric speaks out against Turkish troops
Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has spoken out against the presence of Turkish troops at a military base near the ISIS-held city of Mosul. His representative Ahmed al-Safi relayed the message during a Friday sermon in the city of Karbala. Sistani admonished Turkey, saying it should not have sent “troops to the territory of another state under the pretext of supporting the fight against terrorism” and called on the Iraqi government to “protect the sovereignty of Iraq.” Turkey has had troops near Mosul since last year but the arrival of additional troops last week sparked an uproar in Baghdad. Ankara subsequently halted new deployments. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkish troops are deployed in Iraq for training purposes in the fight against ISIS that that their pullout is “out of the question.” However, Turkey has decided in talks with Iraqi officials to “reorganize” its military personnel at the Bashiqa camp near Mosul, the prime minister’s office said on Friday. [AP, 12/11/2015]