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Fantine GardinierAll materialsTurkey, a US and NATO ally, has been accused by the US’ Kurdish allies in eastern Syria of providing a “safe zone” for Daesh* and other terrorist groups in the parts of northern Syria Turkey has occupied.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Thursday that Bashar Hattab Ghazal Al-Sumaidai, codenamed “Abu Zeyd/Master Zeyd,” has been captured in Istanbul in an operation by Turkish intelligence and Istanbul police.The state-owned Anadolu Agency published photos of al-Sumaidai’s arrest.
Erdogan noted that a United Nations Security Report had identified al-Sumaidai as the most likely leader of Daesh following the February death of Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Salbi in a US Special Forces raid.”In his interrogation, he also made his own statements that he was a so-called ‘Qadi’ within the organization, the so-called ministry of education and the ministry of justice,” Erdogan told reporters.”This terrorist’s connections in Syria and Istanbul had been followed for a long time, and intelligence information was obtained that he would enter Turkey illegally. And this terrorist was caught by the successful operation of the Security Intelligence, MIT [National Intelligence Organization] and Istanbul Police. It was determined by the Istanbul police departments that the terrorist used a fake identity card and was disguised.”Turkish authorities arrested another senior Daesh official, Abu al-Hassan al-Qurayshi, in May in Istanbul as well.After its control over territory in Syria and Iraq was ended in 2018 by a coalition of allied forces, Daesh was far from eradicated as a political force and has continued to stage and inspire terrorist attacks in both countries, as well as in northern and eastern Africa. Daesh’s persistence has also been used as an excuse by American forces to continue occupying parts of eastern Syria, denying them to the Syrian government in Damascus. The lands are fertile in both grains and petroleum.However, Erdogan has objected to US support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of Kurdish militias that he says are terrorist groups responsible for attacks on Turkish forces inside Turkey. He has threatened a new military operation against the SDF, which Washington, in turn, warned would destabilize the region and create new openings for Daesh to gain ground.*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia and many other states.