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Anna Campbell photographed at the age of 12 in 2003 in St Mary & # 39; s Hall for a school photo
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Four young women in dusty sweat-soaked fatigue hold AK-47 guns high above their heads under the bright sun of the Middle East.

They are in training, desperate to join the Kurdish defense and are famous female combat units trying to drive back the forces of Isis that flew through Syria and Iraq.

While Dirk Campbell sees the figures in the shaky image of the militia group move across the screen, a young hunter stands out.

She is noticeably taller than the others, with pale skin and short blond hair. She is also unmistakably his daughter, Anna.

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Dirk, who is seeing the images for the first time, is visibly moved – because these precious photos are some of Anna's last photos taken in the weeks before she died.

Anna Campbell was murdered in March last year at the age of 26 by an air raid, while she tried to evacuate civilians from the besieged northern city of Afrin. Anna Campbell is the only British woman who died in addition to the Kurdish troops in Syria.

For Dirk, still torn apart by confusion and grief, Anna & # 39; s decision to fight with strangers, for a cause far removed from her privileged life in the Sussex countryside, didn't make much sense.

Anna Campbell photographed at the age of 12 in 2003 in St Mary & # 39; s Hall for a school photo

Anna Campbell photographed at the age of 12 in 2003 in St Mary & # 39; s Hall for a school photo

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But he has now made the decision to follow his daughter's steps for a gripping BBC documentary in an effort to understand why she made the secret 2,500-mile journey that would cost Anna her life

& # 39; I want to experience what it was like for Anna & # 39 ;, Dirk explains.

& # 39; How was the world seen through her eyes? I want to know what her world was like. I think a lot about that. She knew her life was in danger. And I want to know that my daughter died for a reason. & # 39;

Anna was always driven by the power of her beliefs, a cheerful and well-educated young woman who excelled in everything. She was born six weeks early in a rich, albeit unconventional, family from Lewes, East Sussex.

Dirk is a film composer whose work includes music for Hollywood blockbusters such as Aladdin and Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire, plus TV shows Indian Summers and The Virgin Queen.

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As a young man, he had been a minor star with the progressive rock band Egg.

Her mother, Adrienne, was known as an anti-war activist who took Anna on her first protest march against the invasion of Iraq when Anna was only 11.

Educated in the £ 10,000-year-old St Mary's Hall girls' school in Brighton, she achieved A-degrees in her GCSE's and all children – Anna has five sisters and a brother – were encouraged to think independently.

& # 39; Anna had Adrienne & # 39; s prowess and Adrienne & # 39; s idealism & # 39 ;, says Dirk. Unfortunately, Adrienne died of breast cancer in 2012 at the age of 52 and Anna, then 21, was devastated.

She had already finished her studies, studied English in Sheffield, where she had fallen with radical left-wing activists. But the death of her mother brought her further on that path.

Undated photo provided by The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian-Kurdish militia, shows Anna Campbell, 26, a British citizen who was a fighter with the Kurdish female militia
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Undated photo provided by The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian-Kurdish militia, shows Anna Campbell, 26, a British citizen who was a fighter with the Kurdish female militia

Undated photo provided by The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian-Kurdish militia, shows Anna Campbell, 26, a British citizen who was a fighter with the Kurdish female militia

She wrote letters to prisoners, fought against badger waste and, full of compassion for the expropriated ones, helped establish the first home for female refugees in the & # 39; Jungle & # 39; from Calais.

Dirk could only watch helplessly while she ended up in a life he didn't understand. & # 39; As she grew older, she didn't really express her feelings anymore & he said.

& # 39; I think they were too powerful and she got the message, at least from me, that powerful feelings were somehow unacceptable, or their expression was unacceptable. & # 39;

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It was in the spring of 2017, when the war in Syria entered a bloody new phase, that Anna found a new cause.

THE Kurdish YPG, the People & # 39; s Protection Units, was once described as the & # 39; most effective & # 39; force against Isis in Syria. The militia cooperated with the US, whose air strikes had bombed the jihadist group from much of northern Syria, where it borders on Turkey.

But the authoritarian president of Turkey, Recep Erdogan, used the chaos to push Kurdish forces at their borders, who they feared would want to establish an independent Kurdish democracy in the Rojava region in northern and eastern Syria.

Anna, deeply touched by the situation of the Kurds, was recruited online by activists and registered with the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) – a single woman from the YPG. She told her family, but made them promise not to tell a soul.

And maybe for good reason. Her actions brought her into a legally gray area. By agreeing to join the YPJ, she risked the arrest of terrorist crimes – several other British were arrested, but not charged, on their return to British soil.

Family collects photo of Anna Campbell, 6, and father Dirk in 1997 in their Stoneywood Cottage
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Family collects photo of Anna Campbell, 6, and father Dirk in 1997 in their Stoneywood Cottage

Family collects photo of Anna Campbell, 6, and father Dirk in 1997 in their Stoneywood Cottage

Why didn't her father come in? Afterwards, he naturally complains that he does not. But at the time, Dirk says, he felt powerless to stop her.

& # 39; She just said to me, "Dad, do you know I'm going to Rojava?" I didn't question her about that because I knew from experience that if I did – unless it was fully supportive – it would be seen as an attempt by me to undermine her decisions.

& # 39; Spiritually, I had to let her go.

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& # 39; My conscious choice with my children was to encourage and accept them in whatever they wanted to do or do. & # 39;

But he had no idea that she was planning to fight in the front line – something he said he would have done with horror.

# I would have said please do not. And I think that's what she knew I would have said, and that's why she didn't tell me. & # 39;

In fact, the family knew little about her movements until Dirk traveled with the BBC film crew to the Rojava region.

During a visit to the Internationalists Academy of the YPJ, where the young women from abroad receive their initial training, he gets something precious – a diary that Anna kept during training and fighting. Reading is clearly moving.

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He discovers that Anna flew to Iraq and passed the Tigris River in a small boat & night, arriving in Syria on May 17, 2017 and that, two months later, her & # 39; military training & # 39;

& # 39; Two women came and showed us how to disassemble the AK-47 & # 39 ;, Anna writes in one diary.

& # 39; One by one the students took a turn on a pile of stones. When it was my turn, I approached him and took a deep breath and fired two shots. There was a feeling of appreciation behind me.

& # 39; It turned out that I would hit the 60-meter goal both times. I was pretty puffed with myself and in the minibus on the way back Amara told me to become a sniper. I could easily stay here and help with the construction and movement of the academy, but my goal is to fight, and I will. & # 39;

Dirk Campbell holds a portrait of his daughter Anna, with international YPJ soldiers

Dirk Campbell holds a portrait of his daughter Anna, with international YPJ soldiers

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Dirk Campbell holds a portrait of his daughter Anna, with international YPJ soldiers

Over the months, Anna kept in regular contact with her family via text messages and an occasional phone call.

Dirk remembers that she gave them a false sense of security, always reassuring them that she was OK.

& # 39; Every time she would say, "Hello, everything is going well. I'm just growing vegetables, sitting at a lookout. I'm not fighting. It's all a bit boring, really. & # 39; & # 39;

& # 39; We thought she wasn't in real danger and would return in a few months. & # 39;

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In the documentary Dirk learns that Anna had begged to participate in the battle in Afrin, the last Isis stronghold that was heavily bombed by all parties in the war.

He is stunned. He then gets to see videos that were made by the militia and at least give him a cursory understanding of what she had in mind.

Smiling broadly at the camera and with a determined look on her face, Anna says: “I never thought I could be someone who could take part in a revolution here. I want to know it's real.

& # 39; Yes, I think this is really important and amazing. And I'm going to learn a lot, and I don't regret it for a second. & # 39;

Dirk is visibly shocked. & # 39; I think if I had known that she was confronted with deadly fire, I could not have slept.

& # 39; I would have tried to get there, to be with her. Maybe I could have stopped her. & # 39;

However, the video & # 39; s and the diary helped. & # 39; Now that I've read it, seen her handwriting on the page, it's nice for me to have a conversation, although it's just a one-way conversation, but I listen to her talk in a way that she doesn't feel had that she could talk to me. & # 39;

In a particularly moving entry, Anna writes: & Part of me is terrified that I will never go back.

& # 39; I think I have a lot of introspection and reading to do before I become a fighter. & # 39;

She was so entrenched that she even got a new Kurdish name, Helin Qerecox.

In January 2018, the entries showed that Anna was desperately fighting in the front line.

& # 39; I want to be part of the fighting & # 39 ;, she writes. & # 39; I want to feel my own power, to defend myself and my friends. I watch and read all the news every day, see the photos of the martyrs and the funerals.

& # 39; Maybe that's why I want to go to Afrin so that I can feel closer to the struggle. & # 39;

Her commander, Nisran Abdollah, told Dirk that she reluctantly agreed to let Anna go. But she said the plan had been to keep Anna there for only three days.

It led to a very excited entry into Anna & # 39; s diary.

& # 39; I happily and easily lied to Dad on the phone yesterday and said that I was pretty sure that friends would not let me go & # 39 ;, she writes.

Activist Anna Campbell was one of the protesters detained by the police on 7 September 2013 during a protest against the fascists in London

Activist Anna Campbell was one of the protesters detained by the police on 7 September 2013 during a protest against the fascists in London

Activist Anna Campbell was one of the protesters detained by the police on 7 September 2013 during a protest against the fascists in London

& # 39; I am ready to fight for this country and even die for it if necessary, although I would rather not. & # 39; Her words were unfortunately prophetic.

Eighteen days later Anna was in a building in Mahmudiya, a small settlement on the northwestern outskirts of Afrin with three other Kurdish hunters, when it was attacked by the Turkish Air Force.

She had just stepped out of a concrete tube that she used as an air raid shelter when an F-16 fighter jet that had hit a neighboring building dropped a second bomb.

Anna still died with her battered AK-47 in her hand and carried a pair of old trainers.

Her death was announced with regret and sorrow in the House of Commons. She was called inspiring and greeted by some as a hero.

Now, in her memory, her father has taken over the baton to promote the Kurdish cause.

He is still fighting with the Turkish government to repatriate her body and is strongly opposed to new legislation for the home office that does not distinguish between terrorists and people fighting for British allies.

& # 39; I am extremely distraught – my heart has been torn from my body & # 39 ;, says Dirk.

& # 39; But I am proud that Anna has gone much further than what her mother had achieved.

& # 39; I have to accept, and we all have to accept, that it was her choice, very much her choice.

& # 39; There was no doubt in her mind that she wanted to be the person she became. & # 39;

But those words are still, for him, rather hollow.

& # 39; I feel a lot of guilt, a lot of sadness. I clearly feel hair loss all the time, every day. I will never see my daughter again. & # 39;

Anna: The woman who went to fight Isis is on BBC2 at 9:30 am on Wednesday July 3.

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