Turkish forces in northern Syria have detained a sister of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State who was killed in a U.S. raid last week, a senior Turkish official said on Tuesday, November 5.
“Turkey has captured Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s sister” in a raid near the town of Azaz, the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
He named the woman as Rasmiya Awad, and said she was born in 1954. The woman was accompanied by her husband, her daughter-in-law and five children.
“The three adults are being interrogated at this time,” the official said.
He added that the arrest could be “an intelligence gold mine.”
“What she knows about ISIS can significantly expand our understanding of the group,” help to catch more members and “help Turkey to better protect itself and the rest of Europe from terrorists,” he said.
She was arrested in in a raid Monday evening on a trailer container she was living in with her family, according to the Associated Press, which first reported the story.
The town of Azaz is located in a region of northwestern Syria that has been under Turkish control since an offensive that it staged in 2016.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced on October 27 the death of Baghdadi in a US special forces raid in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, carried out in coordination with the Syrian Democratic Forces, the main U.S. partner on the ground in the fight against ISIS in Syria.
Baghdadi had led ISIS since 2014 and was the world’s most wanted man.
The next day Turkey said that its intelligence services and military had had “intense” contact with their U.S. counterparts on the night of the operation.
Long suspected of allowing the jihadists to cross its border to join Syria after the start of the conflict that has torn the country since 2011, Turkey, hit by several ISIS attacks, joined the Global Coalition Against ISIS in 2015.
But Ankara has been accused in recent weeks of weakening the fight against dispersed ISIS elements by launching an offensive on October 9 against the SDF in Syria.
With reporting from AFP