ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s interior minister said Wednesday that his country’s forces have captured an “important” figure within the Islamic State group, in Syria.
Suleyman Soylu said the suspect is still being interrogated but did not identify the person or provide further details.
“We recently captured an important man within the (IS) in Syria. He has given information on the things he did. His interrogation is continuing,” Soylu said.
Meanwhile, a suspected ISIS member spent a third day in a heavily militarized no man’s land between Turkey and Greece, after Turkey tried to expel him to Greece but Athens refused him entry.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that members of slain Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s “inner circle” are trying to enter Turkey from Syria.
Turkish media have identified him as 39-year-old Mohammad Darwis B. and said he was an American citizen of Jordanian background. It was not clear why Turkey tried to deport him to Greece. Turkish officials have declined comment on his case.
The man could be seen standing some 50 meters (yards) away from the Turkish passport control on the Turkish side of the no man’s land, with one or two Turkish border soldiers and four other men.
A car with Turkish number plates approached, along with four men on foot, with the man in the car addressing the alleged ISIS suspect as “Mohammad.” The ISIS suspect turned around and asked in an American accent if he would be “able to speak today.” The Turkish man replied “maybe.”
Asked to comment on the reports about the man, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday: "Whether they are stuck there at the border it doesn't concern us. We will continue to send them. Whether they take them or not, it is not our concern."
Turkey has captured a wife of the slain leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.
Turkey has engaged in a new push to deport foreign ISIS members who are held in Turkish prisons or in Syria, since it invaded parts of northeast Syria to drive away Syrian Kurdish fighters it considers to be terrorists from a border area.
Three foreign ISIS suspects — from the United States, Denmark and Germany — were deported on Monday, while an official said seven Germans would be expelled on Thursday. Turkey also plans to soon deport two Irish and 11 French nationals.
Turkey has said it captured and detained several members of the family of the slain Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, including one of his wives, his sister and a daughter.
Al-Baghdadi blew himself up during an Oct. 26 raid by U.S. special operations forces on his heavily fortified safe house in the Syrian province of Idlib.
Turkey has been publicizing its efforts to catch ISIS members, following criticism that its military offensive against the Syrian Kurdish fighters would lead to an ISIS resurgence.
Kantouris reported from Kastanies, Greece.