Brazilian female sniper and ex-model killed during Russian shelling while fighting in Ukraine died from asphyxiation after she was trapped in burning bunker, her family reveal
- Thalita do Valle, 39, killed on June 30 while fighting for Ukraine in city of Kharkiv
- Model-turned-sniper got trapped in bunker during artillery strike, brother says
- Bunker set on fire with her inside and she suffocated to death, sibling revealed
- Thalita had previously fought for Kurdish forces in battles against ISIS in Iraq
A Brazilian model-turned-sniper fighting in Ukraine died of asphyxiation when she got trapped inside a burning bunker, her devastated family has revealed.
Thalita do Valle, 39, died in a Russian rocket strike on the city of Kharkiv on June 30, with her death first reported this week.
Theo Rodrigo Vieira, her brother, has now spoken out to reveal she suffocated to death after getting separated from her unit and then stuck inside a flaming bunker.
Thalita do Valle, 39, died fighting for Ukraine in the city of Kharkiv on June 30 after getting trapped in a burning bunker during an artillery barrage
Thalita had only been in Ukraine for three weeks before she died, working as a rescuer and a sharpshooter – providing cover for Kyiv’s troops
A photographer and model in her youth, Thalita trained as a sharpshooter while fighting for Kudish Peshmerga forces in Iraq against ISIS (pictured)
Douglas Burigo, 40, a fellow Brazilian also fighting in Ukraine, died in the same attack while trying to rescue her.
Brother Theo said: ‘There were successive attacks and the battalion was divided.
‘Thalita went to the bunker. There was already a fire [and] the bunker closed with her inside.
‘Her friend returned to save her in the interval between the bombing and ended up dead. She died of asphyxiation, she wasn’t hit by shrapnel.’
He revealed Thalita had been born in Ribeirao Preto, in the south of Brazil, but had lived for 30 years in the regional capital of Sao Paulo.
She had been a model and actress in her youth before studying law, then went to work with charities helping to rescue animals.
Later in life she gained a taste for combat, travelling to join Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq fighting against ISIS who trained her to be a sniper.
Theo said she travelled to Ukraine just three weeks ago before being sent to the city of Kharkiv, which is no longer under direct attack by Russia but which is still frequently shelled from across the border.
Thalita messaged virtually every day from the front, Theo said, revealing that she was working as a rescuer as well as a sharpshooter.
She was also responsible for providing cover from advancing Russian forces, he said.
Theo added: ‘Thalita has always been involved in humanitarian missions with the foreign legion of some country or here in Brazil.
‘She was always moved by the feeling of saving animals and humans.
‘My sister was always peaceful, a genuine progressive. Guns are part of a context, war, but she saved lives, she saved animals.
‘She never encouraged young people to take up arms. She was a peaceful person.’
Her death hit the headlines as Ukraine’s forces continue to to fight bloody battles with Russia in the east, with both sides suffering heavy losses.
Putin’s army is slowly advancing along a small section of the frontline after capturing the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk over the last 10 days.
Thalita is pictured during her time with Kurdish forces in Iraq, where she learned to be a sniper
Slovyansk and Kramatorsk are now the next targets, after which he can lay plausible claim to having ‘liberated’ the entire Donbas region.
Ukraine’s forces continue to be outgunned but are making Russia pay in blood for every yard of territory gained, hoping to wear Putin’s armies down before launching a counter-attack to regain areas they have lost.
Such attacks are already underway in the south of the country, with Kyiv’s forces pushing towards the city of Kherson.
Kherson – the only regional capital to fall to Putin’s men during the invasion so-far – is a strategically vital stronghold that spans the Dnipro river.
Re-taking it is as big ask for Ukraine’s military, which has show only limited counter-attacking abilities during the war to-date.
However, if they succeed it will deal a heavy blow to Russian claims of ‘victory’ and make other areas of the south vulnerable.
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