A British woman, who traveled to Syria to fight the Islamic State group alongside Kurdish forces, was killed Friday after a Turkish missile hit her convoy in Afrin, a northern city captured by Turkish-backed troops. According to reports Sunday, Anna Campbell, 26, was volunteering with the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ).
Campbell is believed to be the eighth Briton and first British woman to die fighting alongside Kurdish militias, who are currently defending Afrin, which was targeted by Turkish forces attacking the Kurds along the northern Syrian border. She initially traveled to Syria to fight the Islamic State (ISIS).
“They refused at first, but she was adamant, and even dyed her blonde hair black so as to appear less conspicuous as a westerner,” a YPJ source told the Guardian. “Finally they gave in and let her go.”
YPJ commander and spokeswoman Nesrin Abdullah said 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,” Abdullah said, adding: “On behalf of the Women’s Defence Units YPJ, we express our deepest condolences to (her) family and we promise to follow the path she took up. We will represent her in the entirety of our struggles.”
Her father, Dirk Campbell, described her as a “beautiful and loving daughter” who “would go to any lengths to create the world that she believed in.”
“Anna was very idealistic, very serious, very wholehearted and wanted to create a better world. She wasn’t fighting when she died, she was engaged in a defensive action against the Turkish incursion,” Dirk said, adding his daughter had dedicated her life to the fight against “unjust power and privilege.”
“It seems a small thing, but I remember when she was 11, she protected a bumblebee from being tormented by other kids at school,” her father recalled, according to the Guardian. “She did it with such strength of will that they ridiculed her. But she didn’t care. She was absolutely single-minded when it came to what she believed in, and she believed what Turkey is doing is wrong.”
Last year in May, Campbell told her father she wanted to travel to northern Syria and be part of the fight against ISIS.
“I didn’t try to stop her,” her father Dive said. “Because I knew, once she had decided to do something, she was unstoppable. That’s why she went to Rojava: to help build a world of equality and democracy where everyone has a right to representation. When she told me she was going I joked: ‘It’s been nice knowing you.’ I just knew it might be the last time I’d see her.”