A Brazilian model turned sniper who was fighting in Ukraine was killed in a Russian missile strike last week, making her the third person from the South American country to be killed in the warzone in only a matter of days, according to reports.
Thalita do Valle, 39, was killed in a missile strike in the Kharkiv region on June 30. The attack also killed Douglas Burigo, a former Brazilian soldier, who reportedly went back into the bunker to find her.
The lieutenant responsible for commanding their platoon told Brazilian news outlet UOL that their deaths occurred while they were targeted during a mission to rescue Ukrainians from a village that Russian troops had vacated.
“She was a hero, and her calling was to save lives, running after humanitarian missions,” her brother Theo Rodrigo Viera told UOL.
He said her role was as a rescuer, but she also provided cover for advancing troops.
Do Valle, from Sao Paulo, was a former child actress and worked as a model after turning 18. She also studied law and was passionate about animal activism, her family said, and she worked with NGOs to defend animal rights.
According to her brother, she joined the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq three years ago, where she trained as a sniper. Do Valle documented her experiences in war zones on YouTube and social media, including her time fighting the Islamic State in Iraq.
Her family said she was also working with a writer on a book about her experiences.
Do Valle’s brother said he last spoke with his sister on June 27, just after she moved to Kharkiv. She had earlier been in Kyiv when the city was bombed, he said.
“When we talked on the phone, I wanted to know everything,” he said. “But she said she couldn’t talk much, because cell phone activities were being monitored by Russian drones.”
“She called just to let us know that she was fine.”
Do Volle shared pictures and videos from her time in Ukraine on social media.
“I was told: you are not going to Ukraine to help the defenseless; animals, children?” she wrote alongside the last video she posted on TikTok on June 21, according to an online translation.
“Who said no? I have been here for almost a month! And do you do it for yourself or do something for someone? Happy to be accepted in ALL battalions and be the only Brazilian (again), just like in Iraq.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had made an appeal for people to join an “international legion” to fight against Russian forces after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine on February 24.