Erdogan: Turkey captures slain IS leader al-Baghdadi's wife

Nellie Chapman
November 10, 2019

The new leader of the Islamic State group is "a nobody" with little apparent reputation but the United States hopes he will be killed soon, a USA official said Wednesday.

"We captured his wife but we didn't make a big fuss". I am announcing it here for the first time.

The president didn't give other details, such as the woman's name.

Al-Baghdadi was known to have four wives, according to The Associated Press.

Erdogan also said the number of people with family ties to al-Baghdadi who have been caught by Turkey "is close to reaching double digits".

It is not clear when or how the unidentified woman was arrested by Turkish forces, but Ankara said earlier this week it had captured several of the jihadist's relatives, including his elder sister Rasmiya Awad, in the northern Syrian town of Azaz, in Aleppo province.

He added: "Similarly, we also captured his sister and brother-in-law in Syria", he said in a speech at Ankara University. She was with her husband, daughter-in-law and five children when she was taken into custody.

Heavy fighting between Syrian and Turkish troops
Helicopter pilot Dmitry Ivanov said in televised remarks that patrols were flown by pairs of helicopters in several areas. The patrols are aimed at allowing Turkey to ensure that Syrian Kurdish fighters have evacuated the border area.

"We hope to gather a trove of intelligence from Baghdadi's sister on the inner workings of ISIS", a Turkish official told Reuters. "Our strong counter-terrorism cooperation with like-minded partners can never be questioned".

Baghdadi rose from obscurity to lead the ultra-hardline group and declare himself caliph of all Muslims, holding sway over huge areas of Iraq and Syria from 2014-2017 before Islamic State's control was wrested away by a US-led coalition.

She was said to be the "first wife" of the IS leader, who was killed in a United States special forces raid in Syria last month.

Up and until his death, al-Baghdadi had moved from place to place in eastern Syria amid a tightening USA -led campaign against his group as IS-held territory fell bit by bit. The terrorist group confirmed his death in an audiotape posted online later.

Several days later, Daesh confirmed the death of al-Baghdadi, naming Abi Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi their new leader. President Donald Trump later said the United States knows who the man is.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the operation "was the culmination of a multiyear, interagency effort to find him and then capture or kill him".

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