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Lebanon detains IS group leader’s wife and child

Al-Furqan Media, HO, AFP | A file image grab taken from a propaganda video released on July 5, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly shows the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Lebanon’s army has detained Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s wife and one of his children, Lebanese security officials said on Tuesday.

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The pair were taken into custody as they attempted to cross the border into northern Lebanon from Syria nine days ago.

The army detained the woman in coordination with “foreign intelligence apparatus,” Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported. It said that she had been travelling with a fake passport, accompanied by one of her children.

There are conflicting reports as to whether the child is a boy or a girl.

Investigators were questioning the woman at the headquarters of Lebanon’s Defence Ministry, according to As-Safir. The Islamic State group leader has three wives, two Iraqis and one Syrian, according to tribal sources in Iraq.

The arrest is a blow to Baghdadi, and could be used as a bargaining chip against his group. There was no immediate reaction, however, from Islamic State group websites regarding the incident.

Baghdadi, an Iraqi national believed to be in his early 40s, took control of the Islamic State (IS) group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in 2010. Since then he has transformed it from a local al Qaeda offshoot into an independent, transnational militant force.

Over the past months, the IS group has seized huge swaths of territory in both Iraq and Syria, declaring a caliphate, or the establishment of an Islamic State, in the two countries. On November 13, Baghdadi extended the caliphate to include Saudi Arabia and four other Arab countries.

Seeking to weaken the IS group, a US-led coalition has carried out ongoing airstrikes targeting strategic positions in Syria and Iraq. The United States has also offered $10 million for information leading to the location, arrest or conviction of Baghdadi.

In Lebanon, security forces have waged a crackdown on IS group sympathisers and intelligence services have been extra vigilant on the border crossings.

Over the past few months they have arrested a number of Islamic militants suspected of staging attacks to expand the IS group's influence.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

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