A British woman fighting with a Kurdish armed unit has died in Syria, her father has said.
Anna Campbell, from Lewes, East Sussex, died on March 15 in Afrin, the BBC reported. She was fighting with the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units, known as the YPJ. It is thought she was killed by Turkish air strikes.
Campbell is the first British woman to have been killed in Syria while fighting with the YPJ.
Campbell’s father, Dirk, told the BBC the 26-year-old “wanted to create a better world and she would do everything in her power to do that”.
He added: “I told her of course that she was putting her life in danger, which she knew full well she was doing. I feel I should have done more to persuade her to come back, but she was completely adamant.”
The YPJ is an all-female brigade of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, the YPG, which has around 50,000 Kurdish men and women fighting against Isis in northern Syria.
Dirk Campbell told the BBC he understands his daughter joined the Kurdish force when they left the fight against Isis to defend Afrin from Turkish forces.
In a statement to The Guardian, YPJ commander and spokeswoman Nesrin Abdullah said Anna’s death was a “great loss”.
She told the newspaper: “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.
“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.”
Conflict between Turkey and Kurdish groups has intensified since January. Over the weekend, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said the country’s military had recaptured the town centre of Afrin, which was previously controlled by the YPG.
Nearly two months after launching an offensive on the Kurdish territory, he said the Turkish flag and that of Syrian opposition fighters had been raised in the town.
Dirk Campbell said his daughter was an “incredibly principled, brave, determined, committed woman” whose death had left him “in pieces”.
“She was determined to live in a way that made a difference to the world and she was determined to act on that and do whatever it took,” he told the BBC.
“She was prepared to put her life on the line. There aren’t many people who do that.
“In retrospect I think that I probably should have done more to dissuade her (from going to Syria) but I also knew that she would never have forgiven me if I had actively prevented her from going.
“I couldn’t affect or try to influence her own perceived destiny. It was the most important thing in life for her.”