Turkey announces capture of wife of IS leader Baghdadi in Syria

Turkey announces capture of wife of IS leader Baghdadi in Syria
‘We captured his wife and didn’t make a fuss,’ boasted Erdogan while announcing Turkey had captured the assassinated IS leader’s wife, sister and brother in law in Syria.
3 min read
06 November, 2019
Erdogan criticised the US fanfare over the fatal raid on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi [Getty]
Turkey has captured one of the wives of the slain leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Wednesday.

Erdogan broke the news while giving a speech at Ankara University, without elaborating on the operation of giving the woman’s name.

Baghdadi had four wives, according to one of his former aides.

"The United States said Baghdadi killed himself in a tunnel. They started a communication campaign about this," Erdogan said in a speech in the capital on Wednesday afternoon. 

"But, I am announcing it here for the first time: We captured his wife and didn't make a fuss like them. Similarly, we also captured his sister and brother-in-law in Syria."

The IS leader blew himself up during a raid by US special forces on his heavily fortified safe house in the Syrian province of Idlib on 26 October.

Erdogan's announcement comes just days after Turkish forces captured Baghdadi's elder sister, identified as Rasmiya Awad, in the town of Azaz, in Aleppo province, northwestern Syria.

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The area is part of the region administered by Turkey after it carried out military incursions to chase away IS militants and Kurdish fighters, starting in 2016. Turkish-backed Syrian groups manage the area known as the Euphrates Shield zone.

Awad was with her husband, daughter-in-law and five children when she was detained. A Turkish official said the 65-year-old is suspected of being affiliated with the militant group and called her capture an intelligence "gold mine". Turkish authorities also posted a picture of the captive.

Erdogan did not clarify whether Awad's capture gave rise to intelligence that led to the arrest of the wife.

One of al-Baghdadi's wives is known to be an Iraqi known as Nour, the daughter of one his aide Abu Abdullah al-Zubaie. 

In a recent TV interview, Baghdadi's brother-in-law Mohamad Ali Sajit, who is in Iraqi custody, identified Nour and said the militant leader had four wives when he last met him last summer.

Another of Baghdadi's ex-wives was arrested in Lebanon in 2014, freed a year later in a prisoner swap with Al-Qaeda.

The Iraqi ex-wife, Saja al-Dulaimi, had fled from al-Baghdadi in 2009 while pregnant with his daughter. At one point, Baghdadi was also believed to have married to a German teenager in 2015 but she was reported to have fled the following year.

Syria Weekly: IS poses new threat after Baghdadi death

The raid that killed al-Baghdadi was a major blow to the remnants of IS, having lost almost all of its territory in Syria and Iraq in a series of military defeats by the US-led coalition and Kurdish, Syrian and Iraqi allies.

Baghdadi's aide, who was Saudi, was killed in a subsequent US raid in northwestern Syria, just hours after hours after that which killed Baghdadi. 

Two of Baghdadi's children were killed during the raid, yet it was not clear if any of his wives were also present.

The group named a successor to al-Baghdadi days later, but little is known about him or how the group's structure has been affected by the successive blows.

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