Sussex

Anna Campbell: Father learns more about Syria fighter's life before she was killed

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

A grieving father whose daughter died while fighting in Syria said travelling to the place where she was killed has helped him to accept her death.

Dirk Campbell retraced her steps for a BBC documentary exploring the reasons why she left the safety of her home in Lewes, East Sussex, in 2017.

Anna Campbell, 26, died on 15 March 2018 while fighting with the Kurdish Women's Protection Units (YPJ).

Her father said she was willing to lay her life on the line for their cause.

Ms Campbell travelled to Rojava in northern Syria to help the Kurds, who were fighting against the Islamic State group.

She died nine months later in Afrin, which had been under bombardment by Turkish forces.

"These are the people that Anna loved, that she went to join, that she fought for," Mr Campbell said.

Image caption Dirk Campbell said he was "tremendously proud" of his daughter

By following in her footsteps, he was able to speak to Nisrin Abdollah, a senior commander of the YPJ, who told him that his daughter was so desperate to fight that she dyed her hair black so that she would look Kurdish.

Mr Campbell, 68, told BBC South East he had two main emotions.

"Grief - I will never get to know her as a wise, experienced, mature woman.

"There's also tremendous pride - that she was brave enough and single-minded enough, and uncompromising enough, to be able to go there and place herself in danger to be side-by-side in solidarity with the people she admired."

During his trip, the YPJ gave Mr Campbell her personal diary, in which she had written down her thoughts in the months before she died.

"There are certain things in there that could be very useful in terms of the family's understanding of what was in her mind.

"This will help us with our closure, our connection with her now that she's gone and can't talk to us," he said.

"Anna, the woman who went to fight Isis" is on BBC2 at 21:30 BST on Wednesday 3 July.

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