British woman Anna Campbell killed after fighting Isis in Syria with all-female Kurdish group YPJ

Anna Campbell, 26, was killed in Syria (Picture: YPJ)
Anna Campbell, 26, was killed in Syria (Picture: YPJ)

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 while with the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units, the YPJ, the BBC said.

It is feared she was killed by Turkish air strikes.

Ms Campbell is the first British woman to have been killed in Syria with the YPG or YPJ. Seven men have died in the country while fighting alongside the groups.

Ms Campbell’s father, Dirk, told the broadcaster 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 YPG, which has around 50,000 Kurdish men and women fighting against IS in northern Syria.

Mr Campbell told the BBC he understands his daughter joined her Kurdish comrades when they left the fight against IS to defend Afrin from Turkish forces.


In a statement to The Guardian, YPJ commander and spokeswoman Nesrin Abdullah said Ms Campbell’s death was a “great loss”.

She told the paper: “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.

Ms Campbell had been fighting with all-female Kurdish unit the YPJ (Picture: Rex)
Ms Campbell had been fighting with all-female Kurdish unit the YPJ (Picture: Rex)

“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 been inflamed since January.

Over the weekend, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the country’s military had captured the town centre of Afrin, which was previously controlled by the YPG.

Nearly two months after launching an offensive on the Kurdish territory, he announced that the Turkish flag and that of Syrian opposition fighters had been raised in the town.

Mr 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.

The YPJ fought first against Isis then Turkish forces (Picture: Rex)
The YPJ fought first against Isis then Turkish forces (Picture: Rex)

“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.”

Mark Campbell, co-chairman of the Kurdistan solidarity campaign, said Ms Campbell, who is no relation to him, was killed alongside two Kurdish women amid the air strikes.

He said: “Anna is a woman who seemed to have more humanity in her little finger than the whole of the international community.”

He described Ms Campbell as an “inspiration” and a “hero”.

He added: “I did not know her but I met with her father this morning. I have the utmost respect and condolences for her family.”