German woman killed fighting with Kurds in Syria
10 March 2015, 11:15
Beirut - A young German has become the first foreign woman to die fighting alongside Kurdish forces in Syria, a monitoring group said on Monday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the 19-year-old, who is not being named due to privacy concerns, died early on Sunday in fighting against Islamic State forces near the mainly Assyrian Christian town of Tel Tamr in north-eastern Syria.
The area has seen fierce fighting in recent weeks after an offensive during which Islamic State members abducted more than 200 residents from Assyrian villages along the Khabur river.
At least 40 fighters on both sides have been killed since Sunday morning as the extremists sought to overrun Tel Tamr, the largest town in the area, Observatory director Rami Abdel-Rahman said.
The Firat News Agency, which is close to the banned Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party, said the German fighter was a member of the Turkish Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).
Freedom and democracy
A number of the party's members are fighting alongside the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria. Turkish citizen and MLKP member Suphi Nejat Agirnasli died defending the Kurdish town of Kobane in October.
Recent weeks have also seen the deaths of an Australian and a British foreign fighter in the ranks of the YPG.
Jihadist groups in Syria, most notably Islamic State, are meanwhile thought to have recruited thousands of foreign fighters.
A spokesperson for the Syrian Kurdish authorities in Kobane paid tribute to the young German.
"We believe that this great lady believed in the fight for freedom and democracy and came and joined our forces because she wanted to fight along our side, and because she believed that what we are fighting for was right a cause," Idriss Nassan told dpa.