This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkish forces in Syria have captured one of the wives and other family members of slain Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Erdogan, in a speech on November 6 in Ankara, did not provide details or disclose the name of the woman taken into custody.
Baghdadi was known to have four wives — the maximum he can have at one time under Islamic law, according to an aide to the IS leader.
Baghdadi died on October 26 during a U.S. Special Forces raid in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Province.
“The United States said Baghdadi killed himself in a tunnel. They started a communication campaign about this,” Erdogan said.
“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,” he added.
Reuters and AP on November 5 quoted a senior Turkish official as saying Baghdadi’s older sister, Rasmiya Awad, 65, was found during a raid on November 4 near the Turkish-controlled town of Azaz, in Syria’s Aleppo Province.
It was not immediately clear if Erdogan was referring to Awad in his latest comments.
Turkish forces have taken control of a stretch of territory near its border with Syria after launching a military offensive to force U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters out of the area.
Ankara’s move came after President Donald Trump in September announced a withdrawal of U.S. troops from along the border area to allow Turkish forces to set up the zone free of the Kurdish militias.