Iraqi Kurdish authorities on Monday denied handing over to Turkey the niece of an influential Syrian Kurdish official wanted by Ankara as claimed by her family, the national.ae news website reported.
The interior ministry in northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region dismissed the accusation from the family of Dalia Mahmoud Muslim, echoing an account given by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.
Citing security sources, Anadolu reported Saturday that the 21-year-old had “handed herself in” to Turkish security forces on July 15 in a southern province of Turkey.
Dalia Mahmoud Muslim is the niece of Salih Muslim, former co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), political arm of the main Syrian Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The YPG is viewed as a terrorist group by Turkey and an offshoot of its outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Iraqi Kurdish authorities said the young woman “had left the Women’s Protection Units [the YPG’s female equivalent] and started a relationship with a PKK fighter known as Toul Hadan, living in Bitlis,” Turkey.
“Both of them have decided to leave the PKK,” the interior ministry said in a statement.
Dalia Mahmoud Muslim traveled “clandestinely” to Turkey to hand herself over to Turkish authorities, it said.
On Sunday her father, Mahmoud Muslim, said Iraqi Kurdish authorities bore “responsibility for her kidnapping or for handing her over to Turkish intelligence,” adding that any comments attributed to her were “false” and obtained “under pressure.”
Writing on Facebook, he said his daughter had traveled to neighboring Iraq’s Kurdish region six months ago for medical treatment and had been preparing to return to Syria when she was “handed over to the Turkish authorities.”