Sussex

Anna Campbell: Dad accuses government of 'back-pedalling' over body

Anna Campbell
Image caption Anna Campbell was fighting with the all-female Kurdish armed unit, the YPJ in Afrin in Syria

The father of a British woman killed while fighting in Syria has accused the UK government of "back-pedalling" as he tries to bring her body home.

Dirk Campbell said it now seemed even more likely Anna, 26, would be "left to rot" on the battlefield where she died.

He claimed a meeting with Middle East minister Alistair Burt gave him little confidence of progress.

A Foreign Office spokesman said its ability to help was "extremely limited" with no consular presence in Syria.

Ms Campbell died on 15 March while fighting with the Kurdish Women's Protection Units (YPJ).

She travelled to Syria in May 2017 to help the Kurds, who were fighting against the Islamic State group.

'Scandalous'

She was apparently fatally wounded in Afrin, which had been under bombardment by Turkish forces.

She is the eighth Briton to have died in the country so far.

Last week, Mr Campbell wrote an open letter to the government in which he said Turkey was breaching the Geneva Convention by failing to retrieve the body.

He said Article 15 of the convention states parties to a conflict have a duty to "search for the dead and prevent their being despoiled".

The 67-year-old has since met officials and had hoped the government would pressurise the Turks to take action.

Mr Campbell, of Lewes, East Sussex, said: "It is a scandalous state of affairs.

"I had hoped for a less equivocal response from the Foreign Office. It is just completely back-pedalling."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Turkish forces stepped up their offensive in Afrin in January

Ms Campbell's sister, Hester, said the family had a "desolate feeling of futility."

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said that with no consular presence in Syria, its ability to help was extremely limited.

It added: "The UK has repeatedly raised its concerns with Turkey following its intervention into Northern Syria.

"While we recognise Turkey's legitimate right to defend its borders, it is essential that the rights of innocent civilians are protected."

It said Turkey had assured the UK of its commitment to respect international law and where there was "credible evidence human rights have been violated, then those responsible should be held to account".

However, it added "Anybody who travels to Syria against our advice is putting themselves at considerable risk."

More on this story