British woman volunteering with YPJ killed in Turkish airstrike on Afrin: Reports

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Anna Campbell

A British woman volunteering with the YPJ, the all-female armed unit of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), was killed by a Turkish airstrike in Syria, the BBC reported, quoting her father and comrades on the ground.

Anna Campbell, 26, reportedly died on March 15 in Afrin, which has been under bombardment by Turkish forces.

Dirk Campbell said his daughter was “very idealistic” and “determined.”

Anna Campbell travelled to Syria in May 2017 to help the Kurds, who were battling the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

She had originally been involved in the fighting with the YPJ in Deir ez-Zor, but in January, Turkish forces launched Operation Olive Branch, a major offensive in Afrin against the YPG, the military arm of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Many Kurdish militia left the fight against ISIL to defend Afrin, and some British volunteers are known to have joined them.

Campbell’s father told the BBC he understands his daughter’s Kurdish comrades tried to stop her.

“With fair hair and blue eyes they knew she would stand out, but she dyed her hair black and persuaded them to let her go,” he said.

Friends of Anna Campbell in Syria told the BBC she was killed by Turkish airstrikes, describing her as a feminist with “sincerity and courage” who wanted to fight for women’s liberation in the Middle East.

She is the first British woman to have died in Syria with the YPG or YPJ, but the eighth UK citizen to have been killed while assisting the groups.

Dirk Campbell said he was “in pieces,” having only heard about the death on Sunday.

He said his daughter had been involved in human rights activism in the UK and it was the Kurdish aim of creating a democratic society in the wake of ISIL that inspired her to join them.

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