A day following Turkey's announced capture of the sister of slain ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated for the first time that Turkish forces have also captured one of the wives of Baghdadi.
Erdogan announced in a speech Wednesday, which comes over a week since the US special forces raid that killed Baghdadi in a hideout just miles from the Syria-Turkey border, "We captured his wife".
Oddly, however, in a reflection of increased Turkish frustration at international criticism over both the ongoing 'Operation Peace Spring' and over accusations that Ankara and ISIS fighters are in cahoots, Erdogan framed the alleged high level captures by Turkey in a way that sought to "prove" critics wrong.
"The United States said Baghdadi killed himself in a tunnel. They started a communication campaign about this," declared Erdogan in the speech at Ankara University.
"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," Erdogan said provocatively.
Baghdadi had four wives, but Erdogan didn't give her name or any other details, other than to claim Turkey wouldn't use it for PR purposes, as Erdogan suggested the White House did.
On Tuesday Turkish officials announced that the 65-year old sister of Baghdadi, Rasmiya Awad, was taken alive in an operation described as offering "an intelligence gold mine". Thus far the only "proof" Ankara authorities have offered is to show her ID card to media outlets, but Washington officials have yet to confirm Turkey's latest claims, including the alleged apprehension of Baghdadi's wife.
Ankara announced Baghdadi's sister (pictured above) was being interrogated after she was apprehended in Turkish-controlled Syrian territory near the border early this week.
Turkey has appeared ultra-sensitive of late to western criticism of its handling of the Syria war, with a presidential spokesman lashing out Tuesday saying, “Much dark propaganda against Turkey has been circulating to raise doubts about our resolve against Daesh,” and added, “Our strong counter-terrorism cooperation with like-minded partners can never be questioned.”