ARSAL , Lebanon, Dec. 1 (UPI) — Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s ex-wife was among 13 people exchanged for 16 Lebanese security officers in a prisoner swap Tuesday.
The Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, handed over Lebanese police and soldiers captured in 2014, in exchange for five women and eight men held by the Lebanese. The trade, brokered by Qatari officials, came in Arsal, a Lebanese town on the Syrian border, and was delayed by the slow arrival of humanitarian supplies promised in the deal.
Al-Baghdadi’s former wife, Saja al-Dulaimi, was detained in Lebanon in 2014 when she and her current husband, who is Palestininan, illegally entered the country from Syria with forged identity cards. At the prisoner swap Tuesday, she said she and al-Baghdadi had been divorced for six or seven years, and she intends to live in Turkey.
Those held by Lebanese authorities were handed over to Nusra members, who arrived in trucks. The Nusra captives were transferred to waiting Red Cross vehicles.
The fate of the Lebanese captives has been a prominent issue since their seizure. Relatives held vigils outside government buildings in the capital, Beirut, and posters, depicting the captives and calling for their release, are conspicuous across the city. The soldiers and police officers are among at least two dozen taken in an attack on Arsal in August 2014, and between six and nine captives, not included in the prisoner swap, are believed to still be detained.