A British woman has been killed in a suspected Turkish airstrike after she travelled to Syria to fight against Islamic State terrorists.
Anna Campbell had been fighting with Kurdish militia in an all-female branch of the Kurdish YPG, the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), in the besieged city of Afrin when she died on Thursday.
The 26-year-old from Lewes, East Sussex, is the first British woman to have been killed fighting for Kurdish forces in the war zone. Seven men from the UK have lost their lives fighting with the Kurds.
Ms. Campbell’s father, Dirk, told the BBC she “wanted to create a better world and she would do everything in her power to do that”.
“I told her of course that she was putting her life in danger, which she knew full well she was doing,” he added. “I feel I should have done more to persuade her to come back, but she was completely adamant.”
“I couldn’t affect or try to influence her own perceived destiny. It was the most important thing in life for her.”
According to the BBC, Ms. Campbell initially fought with the YPJ in Deir ez-Zor, where Islamic State has held onto one of the last remaining pockets of territory.
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Turkey has been ramping up its attacks on Kurdish forces near its border with Syria since January, fearing the growth of autonomous Kurdish regions as they face down calls for independence from the Kurdish population within Turkey.
In a statement to The Guardian, YPJ commander and spokeswoman Nesrin Abdullah said Ms. Campbell’s death was a “great loss”.
“Campbell’s martyrdom is a great loss to us because with her international soul, her revolutionary spirit, which demonstrated the power of women, she expressed her will in all her actions,” she told the paper.
Last month, a former British soldier who travelled to Syria to fight with the YPG against Islamic State terrorists was charged with terror offences when he returned to the UK.
James Matthews, 43, was ordered to attend court accused of attending a “place used for terrorist training” in the first case of its kind in the UK.
Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group; however, they are backed by the U.S. in Syria and many consider them freedom fighters.