Turkish authorities catch 13 of slain ISIS leader’s inner circle - Erdoğan

Turkey has captured 13 people from the slain Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s inner circle, Turkish news site Diken quoted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saying during his visit to Hungary on Thursday.

Erdoğan has frequently discussed Turkey’s operations against ISIS members since Baghdadi was killed during a U.S. special forces raid in a northwest Syrian village a mere 5 km from Turkey’s border.

The ISIS leader’s proximity to Turkey led many to question the country’s commitment to the fight against extremist jihadists, but Erdoğan said, “no country in the world right now has shown as strong a response to ISIS as Turkey has.”

The Turkish president said his country’s military had “neutralised” thousands of ISIS fighters and held 1,500 of them in its prisons.

He said many high-ranking ISIS members were trying to find ways to enter Turkey and settle in the country, according to Qatari network Al Jazeera.

“And most lately we have captured 13 of (Baghdadi’s) close circle,” Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey had captured nearly 10 people with family ties to the slain ISIS leader.

Earlier this week, Turkey announced it had captured Baghdadi’s sister, Rasmiya Awad, near the northwest Syrian town of Azaz, which lies in an area under Turkish control. On Wednesday, Erdoğan said Turkish authorities had also captured Baghdadi’s wife. A Turkish official later revealed the woman in question was the ISIS leader’s first wife, Asma Fawzi Muhammad Al-Qubaysi, who identified herself as Rania Mahmoud, had been caught in 2018.