Russian air force blows up thousands of ISIL oil trucks

Russian bombers struck thousands of trucks said to be smuggling illegal oil for ISIL over the Iraq-Turkey border on a day when a Syrian rebel chief was killed in similar air strikes.

Aerial footage released by the Russian defence ministry showed an estimated 12000 heavy-duty trucks on both sides of the Zakho checkpoint, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq bordering Turkey, according to aerial footage.

As the Russian planes prepared to attack, hundreds of drivers could be seen desperately trying to flee to safety or abandon their trucks as bombs rained down.

Many tankers went up in flames.

The Russian Air Force is said to have destroyed over 2,000 tankers used by ISIL for smuggling oil since starting a bombing campaign in late September.

According to Russia Today, the raids had a crippling effect, with the smugglers taking to disguising the trucks, and resorting to transporting cargo mainly at night.

The terrifying footage had emerged on the same day the Syrian rebel chief Zahran Alloush was killed in an air strike.

Alloush, 44, was the commander of the Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) movement; it remains unclear if Syrian Army or Russian forces were responsible for the attack.

According to Moscow, in the last week, 17 ISIS convoys had been destroyed in Russian airstrikes.

Speaking of the images of the vast number of vehicles recorded by intelligence services lieutenant-general Sergey Rudskoy said: ''The [aerial] imagery was made in the vicinity of Zakho (a city in Iraqi Kurdistan), there were 11,775 tankers and trucks on both sides of the Turkish-Iraqi border, www.express.co.uk reported.

''It must be noted that oil from both Iraq and Syria come through this [Zakho] checkpoint."

According to Rudskoy, the Russian air force had made a big dent in the ISIS oil industry.

Rudskoy said: ''According to satellite data, the number of oil tankers moving through the 'northern route' towards the refinery in the [Turkish] city of Batman has considerably diminished."