A German woman fighting with Kurdish militia has been killed battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria, Kurdish officials have said.
Kurdish Peoples Protection Units spokesman Nawaf Khalil said on Monday that Ivana Hoffmann, 19, died on Saturday while fighting alongside the armed group near the Syrian village of Tel Tamr.
Hoffmann was born in Germany to South African parents, according to the Associated Press news agency.
Hoffmann, a member of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) in Turkey, joined the Kurdish group also known as YPG about six months ago, according to a statement released by the MLKP.
The party statement referred to Hoffmann by her moniker, Avashin Tekoshin, and said she died in pre-dawn clashes with ISIL on March 7.
The party statement did not mention how many other MLKP loyalists have travelled to Syria to fight ISIL.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said she was the third foreigner fighting alongside Kurdish forces to be killed in Syria’s four-year-old civil war.
A video posted early on Monday morning on a Facebook page memorialising Hoffmann shows a woman with her face covered by a scarf holding a weapon and speaking German.
She refers to Daesh, the Arabic acronym for ISIL, and to Rojava, a Kurdish word that denotes the now largely autonomous areas in north and northeastern Syria run by Kurds.
“We are here as the MLKP to fight for freedom. Rojava is the beginning. Rojava is hope,” she said.
A German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Sawsan Chebli, said she was unaware of reports about Hoffmann’s death.
The number of foreigners fighting alongside the Kurds is small in comparison with the thousands of foreign recruits to ISIL and other hardline groups.
A Canadian-born immigrant to Israel was the first female foreign fighter to join the Kurds in Syria, a Kurdish source said last year.
Last week the Observatory, which tracks the conflict using a network of sources on the ground, reported that another European had been killed further east, days after an Australian man died. The European has been identified as former British Royal Marine.
The Observatory estimates that just over 100 Western fighters have joined the Kurds in Syria and include Americans, French, Spanish and Dutch fighters, among other nationalities.
German authorities said some 650 people have travelled from Germany to Syria and Iraq, to join groups affiliated with ISIL.
It is unknown how many German nationals have joined the Kurds, but the head of Germany’s military intelligence agency, Christof Gramm, told daily Die Welt in an interview published on Monday that about 20 former German soldiers had travelled to the conflict zone.