A British woman from Lewes, Sussex has died fighting alongside the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG). Anna Campbell is the first British woman to have been killed in Syria, with seven other Britons dying whilst fighting alongside the YPG and other respective groups. The YPJ, an off-shoot of YPG who Campbell stood with, is an all-female brigade and have been defending the city of Afrin in Northern Syria since mid-January when tensions began to rise between the rebels and Islamic State (IS) fighters.
Campbell was killed in an airstrike alongside two other women on 15th March but her father confirmed her death this morning. Afrin has since been seized by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s forces and the fighting continues. The offensive into Northern Syria has sparked an outcry of diplomatic and political tensions. The YPG is viewed as a terrorist group by the Turkish government. They are both trying to regain territory taken from Isis in Northern Syria with the Kurds having increased hardship whilst battling huge air and ground strikes by Ankara-backed forces.
Speaking to the BBC, Ms. Campbell’s father stated that 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”. Furthermore in a statement from the YPJ commander and spokeswoman, Nesrin Abdullah said “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”.
The co-chair of the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign, Mark Campbell said she “…. seems to have more humanity in her little finger that the whole of the international community’. Her father stated that her commanders tried to stop her from proceeding to the frontline among fears of war crimes and indiscriminate bombardment. By dyeing her hair black in an attempt to blend in, she was allowed to fight. Her father said “… in retrospect I think that I probably should have done more to dissuade her but I also knew she would never have forgiven me if I had actively prevented her from going”.
A vigil to remember the bravery and courage of Anna Campbell has been planned for tonight at Cliffe Bridge in Lewes at 6pm.