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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Father urges UK government to repatriate dead daughter's body from Syria

Anna Campbell was killed last week fighting alongside Kurdish forces in the Afrin region

The body of Britain's Anna Campbell remains in the rubble in Syria following her death in March. YPG Syrian Kurdish militia via AP
The body of Britain's Anna Campbell remains in the rubble in Syria following her death in March. YPG Syrian Kurdish militia via AP

The father of a British woman killed fighting alongside Kurdish forces in Syria during a Turkish-led offensive has accused the UK government of lacking "proactivity" in helping to repatriate her body.

Anna Campbell, 27, was killed last week during shelling by Turkey's armed forces in the Afrin region, the Kurdish Women's Protection Units (YPJ) confirmed on Monday.

She is thought to be the first British woman killed fighting alongside the Kurdish militia in Syria.

Dirk Campbell, her father, said Britain's foreign ministry had so far shown a "total lack of proactivity" in helping him to try to repatriate her corpse from the war-torn country.

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"They've said this is a political issue," he said on Tuesday. "I've said, yes, is that not your job?

"You've got a British consulate, [an] embassy in Ankara, you can ask your ambassador... for a ceasefire so we can reclaim Anna's body."

Mr Campbell said the ministry had pledged to respond to him, but he had not heard anything back.

"They're being completely on the back foot on this," he said, adding the British government appeared to "regard all foreign combatants as potential security threats".

Mr Campbell said he was now pessimistic of getting his daughter's body back "any time soon".

Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office did not respond to a request for comment.

Turkey and allied Syrian rebels began their assault on the Afrin region on January 20, seizing most of the canton before capturing its urban centre on Sunday.

They swept into the city after the fighters from the YPJ and its male counterpart, the People's Protection Units (YPG), appeared to withdraw.

Nisrin Abdallah, a YPJ spokeswoman, said Campbell, from Lewes in southern England, joined the group in May 2017.

"After the attack on Afrin, she insisted on being sent there," Ms Abdallah said on Monday.

"We discussed with her a lot, but she gave us an ultimatum: either I quit the revolution or I go to Afrin."

Dirk Campbell, who said he last spoke to his daughter two months ago by phone, described her as "very single-minded, very focused" and possessing a "terrific sense of justice".

"She had hundreds of friends, all of whom are suffering her loss today," he said.

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