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Anna Campbell’s fight for Kurdish justice must continue

ANNA CAMPBELL would not have seen her death as more important than others suffered in the brave Kurdish-led resistance to oppression in Syria.

Whether fighting against the once apparently invincible Islamic State (Isis) hordes of jihadist reaction or the unjustifiable invasion of Aleppo province by Turkey, the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) brigade of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have distinguished themselves on and off the battlefield.

Campbell is one of a number of British and Irish volunteers to leave these islands to stand alongside Syria’s Kurds.

When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered his forces to attack the Afrin canton of north Aleppo, she travelled from Deir Ezzor province where Isis is all but defeated to fight against Ankara’s military might there.

She breathed her last in Afrin city, along with Kurdish comrades, succumbing to air strikes by Turkish warplanes.

Erdogan has no interest in the equal society that the YPJ/YPG declares as its goal in northern Syria’s Rojava region.

He is obsessed by fear that Kurdish self-determination in northern Syria will translate into encouragement for Turkey’s own oppressed Kurdish minority.

That is inevitable because the Kurdish minorities of Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran share a common history of broken promises made by Britain and France in the wake of the first world war and the dismantling of the Ottoman empire.

Just as London and Paris betrayed the Kurds then, Washington does the same today.

The YPG/YPJ were deployed, after their successful defence of Kobane against Isis and its Turkish collaborators, as shock troops to liberate the towns of Manbij and Raqqa from the jihadist yoke, supported by US and, on occasion, Russian air strikes, before pressing forward into oil-rich Deir Ezzor.

The US air support on which they depended for earlier victories is denied them as they try to hold on to Afrin.

President Erdogan has previously threatened to deprive the US of its use of the huge Incirlik air base in southern Turkey if Washington fails to back its Nato ally.

Such threats are not required to induce co-operation from Theresa May. Simply greasing her palms with arms deals will do and so it has proven with Turkey’s invasion of Afrin.

Britain and the US aren’t the only countries apparently unperturbed by the sight of the Turkish military juggernaut rolling over the Kurdish autonomous region.

While Russia has occasionally backed YPG/YPJ action with air support and Moscow made great play of installing the most sophisticated air defence missile systems in northern Syria after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane in November 2015, the Turkish air force has had the skies to itself over Afrin.

Russia recently sold the same S400 air defences to Turkey as it had to Syria, which certainly aggravated Washington.

Is this a case of the Turks playing the US off against Russia and both Washington and Moscow concluding that having Ankara as an ally — and military hardware customer — outranks standing by the Kurds?

President Bashar al-Assad has condemned the Turkish invasion, permitted pro-government Kurdish formations to fight in Afrin and opened Syrian army lines to let Kurdish forces travel to reinforce resistance there, but has he been “advised” to do no more than that?

Britain’s trade union activists and anti-imperialist campaigners should give their backing to the five-day Defend Afrin Platform protest in Whitehall.

They should also demand, in the name of Anna Campbell, that Britain cease selling arms to the Turkish dictatorship and insist that Ankara ends its invasion of Afrin.

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