Turkey has captured a wife of the slain leader of the ISIS group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.
Erdogan made the announcement while delivering a speech in the capital of Ankara but gave no other details. He did not say when or how the woman was captured or identify her by name.
"We caught his wife, but we didn't make a fuss about it. I am announcing this today for the first time," Erdogan said, while criticizing the United States for leading a "communications campaign" about Baghdadi's slaying.
Baghdadi was known to have four wives. He blew himself up during an October 26 raid by US special forces on his heavily fortified safe house in the Syrian province of Idlib.
Erdogan's announcement comes just days after Turkish forces captured Baghdadi's elder sister, identified as Rasmiya Awad, in the town of Azaz, in Aleppo province in northwestern Syria.
Turkey has seized on both incidents to highlight what it says is its fight against the ISIS group, in the face of accusations that the Turkish military offensive last month to drive Syrian Kurdish fighters from northeast Syria would allow for a resurgence of the extremist group.
Azaz is part of a region administered by Turkey following previous military incursions to chase away ISIS militants and Kurdish fighters, starting in 2016. Allied Syrian groups manage the area known as the Euphrates Shield zone.
Awad was with her husband, daughter-in-law and five children when she was detained. A Turkish official said the 65-year-old sister is suspected of being affiliated with the extremist group and called her capture an intelligence "gold mine." Authorities had posted a picture of the sister.
It was not Immediately clear if Awad's capture led to intelligence that allowed for the detention of the wife.
One of Baghdadi's wives is an Iraqi known by the name of Nour, the daughter of one of his aides, Abu Abdullah al-Zubaie. She was identified by name by Baghdadi's brother-in-law in a recent interview with al-Arabiya TV. The brother-in-law, Mohamad Ali Sajit, who is in Iraqi custody, said Baghdadi had four wives when he last met him, sometime last summer.
Also, one of Baghdadi's ex-wives was arrested in Lebanon in 2014, and was freed a year later in a prisoner swap with al-Qaeda. The Iraqi ex-wife, Saja al-Dulaimi, had fled from Baghdadi in 2009 while pregnant with his daughter. At one point, Baghdadi was also believed to have married to a German teenager in 2015 but she was reported to have fled a year later.
Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said two of Baghdadi’s wives had also been killed at the site of last month’s raid.
The raid that killed Baghdadi was a major blow to his extremist group, which has lost territories it held in Syria and Iraq in a series of military defeats by the US-led coalition and Syrian and Iraqi allies.
The group said a successor to Baghdadi, identified as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi, had been appointed. A senior US official said last week that Washington was looking at the new leader to determine where he came from.