This 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 known as YPJ, who was killed March 15, 2018 by a Turkish airstrike in Afrin, north Syria. (YPG Syrian Kurdish militia via AP)

The Latest: British woman killed fighting with Syrian Kurds

March 19, 2018 - 8:59 am

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):

2:05 p.m.

Syria's Kurdish militia says a British woman who had joined their ranks to fight in the northern town of Afrin has been killed in a Turkish airstrike.

Nisrin Abdullah, spokeswoman of the Kurdish female militia known as YPJ, said on Monday that Anna Campbell was killed last Thursday.

She is the first foreign national to die in the battle for Afrin. She is also the first British female fighter and the eighth Briton to die fighting alongside the Kurdish militia in Syria. The Press Association says Campbell was 26 years old from Lewes, East Sussex.

Macer Gifford, a Briton who travelled with Campbell, said they arrived last May to eastern Syria, where they joined the U.S-backed Kurdish militia to fight against Islamic State militants. Gifford returned home after the fall of the city of Raqqa last summer.

Gifford told The Associated Press via Twitter that Campbell, an animal rights activist, "was a lovely girl. Very opinionated and determined."

He also says: "She loved the YPJ and the last I saw of her was her leaving to join them."

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1:50 p.m.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag says Turkey does not aim to invade the Syrian town of Afrin and will hand it over to "its real owners."

Bozdag made the comments on Monday, a day after Turkish troops and Ankara-allied Syrian opposition forces captured Afrin.

The town was taken nearly two month after Turkey launched its offensive to clear Afrin and surrounding districts of a Syrian Kurdish militia that Ankara considers to be a "terrorist" group, allied with Turkey's outlawed Kurdish rebels.

Bozdag says" ''We are not invaders. The aim of our offensive is to clear the region of terror."

He says the Syrian Kurdish forces retreated from Afrin because "they were afraid ... you see this very clearly when you look at ammunition and weapons that they left behind."

He says the Kurdish fighters had left booby traps and other explosives inside Afrin.

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1:35 p.m.

The European Union has slapped sanctions on a senior Syrian military officer and three scientists accused of links to the development and use of chemical weapons against civilians.

EU headquarters said on Monday that the four work at the Scientific Studies and Research Center, a Syrian government agency the EU says produces chemical weapons and missiles to deliver them.

The center has been under EU sanctions since Dec. 2011.

The move brings to 261 the number of people targeted by an EU travel ban and asset freeze over the crackdown on Syrian civilians and support for the government of President Bashar Assad or associating with certain government officials.

A further 67 entities — often companies, agencies and organizations — have had their assets frozen.

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12:40 p.m.

A senior Syrian Kurdish official says Turkey's offensive on the Syrian town of Afrin is an "occupation" that endangers the rest of northern Syria.

Aldar Khalil, a leading Kurdish official, on Monday condemned Turkey for the assault and for raising the Turkey's flag in a Syrian town.

He says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking to spread his influence in Syria as a way of restoring the Ottoman empire's former influence.

He says: "The whole of northern Syria is in danger."

Turkish troops and Syrian opposition fighters allied with Ankara captured Afrin on Sunday, nearly two months after Turkey began its offensive on the enclave.

Erdogan, who first launched military operations in Syria in 2016, has repeatedly said Turkey will not allow a "terror corridor" along its border and has vowed to push eastward in Syria after Afrin, to prevent the Kurdish militia from linking up territories it controls in eastern and western Syria.

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9:50 a.m.

The European Union's top diplomat is criticizing Turkey over its military offensive in a northern Syrian town and is calling on Ankara to ensure that fighting eases in the conflict-torn country.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says: "I am worried about this."

Mogherini told reporters in Brussels on Monday that international efforts in Syria are supposed to be "aiming at de-escalating the military activities and not escalating them."

She urged Turkey, Russia and Iran to guarantee that conflict "de-escalation zones" are established as promised, to "guarantee that that is what happens on the ground."

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Sunday the capture of the town of Afrin, previously controlled by the Kurdish militia known as the People's Defense Units, or YPG.

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9:40 a.m.

Turkey's state-run news agency says a booby trap bomb reportedly left by Syrian Kurdish fighters in the northern Syrian town of Afrin has killed 11 people — seven civilians and four Turkish-backed fighters.

Anadolu Agency says the explosion occurred late on Sunday in a four-story building that Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces were clearing for explosives.

Turkish troops and Syrian opposition fighters allied with Ankara marched into Afrin on Sunday, nearly two months after Turkey began its offensive on the enclave to drive out a Syrian Kurdish militia. Ankara considers the militia an extension of its own insurgency.

Kurdish officials and a war monitor say some pockets of resistance remain in the town of Afrin but the Kurdish militia, known as YPG, has largely withdrawn.

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9:20 a.m.

A Syria war monitoring group says Turkish-allied militiamen are looting the northern Syrian town of Afrin after the Turkish military and allied Syrian fighters seized control of it.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday the looting began on Sunday, after the Turkish and allied Syrian forces marched into the town center and raised their flags there — nearly two months after the offensive on the Kurdish enclave started.

The troops faced little resistance from the Kurdish militia, which withdrew, vowing a "new phase" of guerrilla tactics against Turkish troops and their allied fighters.

The Observatory, which monitors Syria's war through a network of activists on the ground, described extensive looting of shops, homes and cars in Afrin.

It's unclear what Turkey plans after the capture of Afrin.

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