BAGHDAD (Dispatches) – Iraqi security forces say they have detained the deputy of the late Daesh chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the country’s north, according to a police statement.
"The [detained man] was al-Baghdadi’s deputy, as well as the ‘military emir [commander]’ for the Saladin province”, the statement said.
On 27 October, the United States announced that al-Baghdadi had been killed in Syria during a special operation by U.S. troops.
The Russian Defense Ministry, in the meantime, said that there was no reliable data to confirm that the terrorist had indeed been killed. Since 2014, there have been at least six instances in which different states and non-state actors claimed to have killed al-Baghdadi.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has also cast doubt on Trump’s claim that Daesh ringleader Baghdadi had been killed in an operation by the U.S. military, calling the much-publicized operation a "fantastic play” staged by the Americans.
Assad made the remarks in an interview with the French magazine Paris Match published on November 27.
When asked whether Damascus really gave the U.S. information on al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts, Assad said he "always laughs when this question is raised, because the more important question which should be asked is: was al-Baghdadi really killed or not? And did this "fantastic play” staged by the Americans take place in reality?”
Asked again why Trump thanked him, Assad said, "It’s one of Trump’s cute jokes. It’s a joke.”
Meanwhile, a cousin of al-Baghdadi has also been reportedly captured in Iraq’s oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk.
Hisham al-Hashemi, an Iraqi security analyst, wrote in a post published on his Twitter page on Wednesday that "forces from the Hawija police station had managed to arrest a Daesh commander identified as Hamed Shaker Saba’ al-Badri inside the city of Kirkuk. He is the cousin of Baghdadi and better known by the nom de guerre Abu Khaldun.”
Hashemi added that Abu Khaldun was "one of the most senior Daesh leaders, who used to manage intelligence files in the terror group.”
Back on November 7, a senior Turkish official said a wife and daughter of Baghdadi were among a group of Daesh suspects detained by Turkish police in June 2018.
The unnamed official said the woman was Asma Fawzi Muhammad al-Qubaysi, Baghdadi’s first wife. She was found in Hatay, southern Turkey, among a group of 11 Daesh suspects that comprised of four women, one man and six children. She had falsely identified herself as Rania Mahmoud.
A DNA test also confirmed that another suspect, who identified herself as Leila Jabeer, was Baghdadi’s daughter.
Earlier last month, Turkish authorities said they had captured Baghdadi’s sister, Rasmiya Awad, 65, in the northern Syrian town of Azaz.