Turkey ‘captures sister of dead IS leader in raid’

The sister of former Islamic State group (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been captured in northern Syria, Turkish officials say.

The 65-year-old, named as Rasmiya Awad, was detained in a raid on Monday near the town of Azaz, officials said.

Turkish officials, cited by several media outlets, believe the arrest could yield valuable intelligence about IS.

Baghdadi killed himself during a raid by US special forces on his compound in north-west Syria last month.

His death was hailed as a victory for US President Donald Trump, but critics argue that IS remains a security threat in Syria and elsewhere.

One Turkish official told Reuters news agency the arrest of Baghdadi’s older sister might help shed light on “the inner workings” of IS.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, hailed the arrest as “another example of the success of our counter-terrorism operations”.

Little is known about Baghdadi’s sister and the BBC has not yet been able to independently verify the identity of the arrested woman.

Baghdadi had several brothers and sisters, although it is not clear if they are all still alive, the New York Times reports.

The arrest was reportedly made in an area of Aleppo province now under Turkey’s control.

Ms Awad was found in a trailer, where she was living with her husband, daughter-in-law and five children, a Turkish official told AP news agency, adding that she was being interrogated on suspicion of involvement with an extremist group.

The official said Ms Awad could be an intelligence “gold mine”.

Experts say the town where Ms Awad was captured is a known smuggling route for IS families.

But it is not clear how much useful intelligence Ms Awad could provide, or how much time she spent with Baghdadi.

It remains to be seen what useful intelligence Baghdadi’s sister can offer, bearing in mind she might not be privy to information about the group’s inner circle.

But she may be able to shed light on smuggling routes and hideouts of some IS members and their families, given her and her family’s own presence in an area that is hostile to IS – Azaz in northern Syria. -BBC

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