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Turkey detains niece of Syrian Kurdish official — family

By AFP - Jul 19,2020 - Last updated at Jul 19,2020

BEIRUT — Turkey has detained the niece of an influential Syrian Kurdish politician, himself wanted by Ankara, the family said on Sunday.

Dalia Mahmoud Muslim is a niece of Saleh Muslim, who is close to Syria's semi-autonomous Kurdish administration.

She was "handed over to the Turkish authorities and their intelligence services" after travelling to neighbouring Iraq's Kurdish region six months ago for medical treatment, her father Mahmoud Muslim said.

Writing on Facebook, he said his daughter had been preparing to return to Syria and that her apparent transfer to Turkish custody had "surprised" the family.

The Iraqi Kurdish authorities shoulder "responsibility for her kidnapping or handing her over to Turkish intelligence", he said, adding that any words attributed to her were "false" and obtained "under pressure".

Official Turkish Anadolu had on Saturday reported a different version of her detention. Citing security sources, it said that she had "handed herself in" to Turkish security forces on July 15 in a southern province of Turkey.

Saleh Muslim was himself briefly detained in Prague in 2018 and Turkey demanded he be extradited, on the basis of an arrest warrant Ankara issued two years earlier in connection with an attack in Ankara that killed 29 people in February 2016.

He denied any link to the attack, and was released.

The Kurds established their semi-autonomous administration in the vast stretches of north-eastern Syria that border Turkey during the ongoing civil war.

The administration is viewed with hostility by Turkey, which sees the main Syrian Kurdish militia, the YPG, as "terrorists" and an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK has waged a three-decade insurgency inside Turkey.

Dalia Muslim's father says she belongs to the YPG's female contingent.

Saleh Muslim was long co-chair of the Democratic Union Party, the YPG's political arm.


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