Brazilian volunteer fighter killed in Ukraine
Thalita Do Valle, a former Brazilian model, activist and most recently a volunteer fighter in the International Legion of Ukraine, was a former sniper in Iraq
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She died along with another compatriot of hers, Brazilian army veteran Douglas Burgio.
Details of the attack are not yet known from official sources.
Do Valle and Burgio's family members say their battalion came under heavy Russian fire near Kharkiv on June 30?
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"Thalita went into the bunker," Do Valle's brother Theo Rodrigo Vieira told the Daily Mail on July 6.
“There was already a fire and the bunker collapsed with her. Her friend returned to save her in the time between the bombings and eventually died. She died of suffocation; it was not hit by shrapnel.”
According to Viira, his sister had left for Ukraine three weeks earlier. "She said she was going to Poland to work as an emergency worker to help people leave the war-torn country," he told Brazil's Folha do Sao Paolo news agency.
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"Shortly after, she drove to the conflict zone (in Ukraine)."
When Do Valle next spoke to her relatives, she was already near Kharkiv.
"I wanted to know everything during our phone calls," Vieira recalls.
"But she said she couldn't reveal much because the Russians are tapping the cell phone network. She just said she was fine.”
Vieira spoke to his sister for the last time on June 27. Burgio's family said the Brazilian embassy in Ukraine informed them of Burgio's tragic death.
The report of the incident was confirmed by Lieutenant Sandro Carvalho Da Silva, who leads the International Legion squad.
"During one of the brief respites, we ran out of the shelter and moved to another location," Da Silva said.
"Thalita couldn't escape because of the fire. Douglas ran back to help her but got trapped there too.”
Before daring to fight against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Do Valle fought with Kurdish forces against ISIS in Iraq and Syria in 2019.
"When she joined the Kurdish military, she specialized in sniper rifles," Vieira said.
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“She was a heroine; Saving lives and protecting humanitarian missions was her calling.”
Before leaving for Iraq, Do Valle studied to become a lawyer, hoping to advocate for migrant and refugee rights.
At the age of 18 she had a brief modeling career.
Media reports of Brazilian volunteers fighting the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine first appeared in April.
It is unclear how many Brazilians currently serve in the International Legion.
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