The elder sister of slain Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been captured along with her family on Monday, Turkish media said citing a senior official in Ankara.
Rasmiya Awad, 65, her husband, daughter-in-law and five children were arrested by Turkish forces from a trailer container they were living in to escape notice.
The raid took place near the town of Azaz in north-western Syria, a region administered by Turkey.
The official called the arrest an intelligence gold mine as authorities hope to get a wealth of information about Islamic State, possibly leading to the arrest more terrorists linked to the group.
Little is known about Awad. Baghdadi was close to one of his brothers, Abu Hamza.
Commenting on Awad’s arrest, a top aide of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it shows Ankara’s resolve to hunt down terrorists and exposes those who raise doubts over its intention.
Baghdadi was killed in a US military raid on his hideout, above, (Photo credit: US Central Command/Pentagon) in Idlib province late last month.
In a statement, Turkey’s interior ministry said some 287 Islamist State suspects have been arrested in northern Syria in counterterrorism operations by the Turkish military and the Syrian National Army. Among those arrested were 45 Turks and 242 foreign nationals.
While the suspects from Turkey have been sent home, suspects from other countries remain in detention in various places in northern Syria.
Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said all foreign nationals detained will be repatriated to their respective countries even if they had been stripped of their nationalities by their governments fearing public outrage and security issues.
Some EU members such as the Netherlands and the UK have revoked the citizenship of Islamic State terrorists to prevent their deportation from Turkey.
More than 1,200 foreign Islamic State suspects are detained in various jails in Turkey along with some 280 relatives, Soylu said, adding that Ankara periodically returns them to their home countries.