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Turkey ‘captures sister of killed Islamic State leader’

Little is known about the sister of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

(Department of Defence/AP)
(Department of Defence/AP)

By Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press

Turkey has captured the older sister of the killed leader of the so-called Islamic State group in north-western Syria, a senior official said, calling the arrest an intelligence “gold mine”.

Little is known about the sister of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but the Turkish official said the 65-year-old known as Rasmiya Awad is suspected of being affiliated with the extremist group.

Awad was captured in a raid on Monday evening on a trailer container she was living in with her family near the town of Azaz in Aleppo province.

This kind of thing is an intelligence gold mine. What she knows about (IS) can significantly expand our understanding of the group and help us catch more bad guys Turkish official

The area is part of the region administered by Turkey after it carried out a military incursion to oust IS militants and Kurdish fighters starting in 2016. Allied Syrian groups manage the area known as the Euphrates Shield zone.

The official said the sister was with her husband, daughter-in-law and five children. The adults are being interrogated, he said.

“This kind of thing is an intelligence gold mine. What she knows about (IS) can significantly expand our understanding of the group and help us catch more bad guys,” the official said.

Al-Baghdadi, an Iraqi from Samarra, was killed in a US raid in the nearby province of Idlib last month.

The raid was a major blow to IS, which has lost territories it held in Syria and Iraq in a series of military defeats by the USled coalition and Syrian and Iraqi allies.

Many IS members escaped through smuggling routes to north-western Syria in the final days of battle ahead of the group’s territorial defeat earlier this year, while others have melted into the desert in Syria or Iraq.

The reclusive al-Baghdadi was known to be close to one of his brothers, known as Abu Hamza.

Al-Baghdadi’s aide, a Saudi, was killed hours after the raid, also in north-western Syria, in a US strike. 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.

PA

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