A crowd estimated at 2,000 turned out for the funeral of Ivana Hoffmann in Duisburg, Germany, over the weekend. Hoffmann, 19, was killed fighting ISIS in Syria as a volunteer in the Kurdish YPG force.
A number of the attendees at Hoffmann’s funeral were Communist activists. “Born in Germany to South African parents, Hoffman was a member of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) in Turkey and joined YPG fighters about six months ago,” said a statement from the party, according to the Associated Press.
The BBC adds that the Communist Party statement referred to Hoffmann by her preferred pseudonym, “Avasin Tekosin Gunes,” and declared her to be “immortal.”
Perhaps these associations are the reason world media coverage of her death has been somewhat muted, although it would seem to be a highly newsworthy event. The UK Guardian, which certainly doesn’t care about Hoffman’s penchant for posing in front of big red hammer-and-sickle flags, notes that she is “the first female Western fighter to die in battle against the Islamic State in northern Syria.”
The Guardian included a link to Hoffman’s YouTube declaration of war against ISIS, a mission she says she undertook to “defend the revolution” and “hold high the [Communist] party’s flag”:
Unlinked but mentioned in the Guardian piece is a later YouTube video, evidently filmed somewhere in the border area between Turkey and Syria, where Hoffman covered her face with a scarf, brandished a rifle, and said she was working with the Kurds to “fight for humanity” and “fight for freedom.”
She was killed on March 7, during what is described as an early-morning firefight between her unit and a dozen or so ISIS fighters in the Tel Tamir region of Syria. Over the past few weeks, Tel Tamir has seen what an American recruit to the Kurdish military described to Radio Free Europe as “an extremely intense fight.” He praised the Kurdish forces as “incredibly fierce warriors” and said they were “holding strong” against the Islamic State militants, “killing them every chance we get.”
At the moment, Kurdish forces are holding Tel Tamir, but ISIS has launched a major effort to retake it, prompting the Kurds to ask for, and receive, American air support. Radio Free Europe describes a considerable force drawn together against ISIS in the region, with Kurdish Women’s Protection Units, fighters from a Sunni Arab tribal militia known as the “Army of the Valiant,” and an Assyrian Christian militia called the Syriac Military Council joining the Kurdish YPG.