A Brazilian bombshell who joined Ukrainian forces as an elite sniper in the fight against Russia was killed during a missile strike, relatives said.
Thalita do Valle, a 39-year-old ex-model who had been in Ukraine for only three weeks, died in a June 30 Russian missile strike in Kharkiv, where she was pinned down amid heavy explosions.
The volunteer soldier from Sao Paulo died alongside former Brazilian Army fighter Douglas Burigo, 40, who was on his way to evacuate her from a bunker when he was killed.
The former model who also attended law school had posted videos of her time in Ukraine on her YouTube channel, which documented her previous experience as a fighter against the Islamic State in Iraq.
While in Iraq, do Valle trained as a sniper with the Peshmergas in the independent Kurdistan region. Her brother, Theo Rodrigo Viera, hailed her as a hero who dedicated her life to helping others in desperate need.
Viera told local media that his sister became trapped in a bunker in Kharkiv amid heavy Russian shelling and died of asphyxiation, according to the Daily Mail.
“Thalita has always been involved in humanitarian missions with the foreign legion of some country or here in Brazil,” Viera said. “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.”
In Ukraine, do Valle had trained as a sniper and provided cover to Ukrainian troops from advancing Russian forces. Her brother said she had survived an earlier bombing in Kyiv, where she told relatives she couldn’t say much more as cellphones were being monitored by Russian drones.
The deaths of the two volunteer soldiers from Brazil sparked tributes online, including some featuring photos of them in happier times.
“Blessed be the Cobra Fumantes,” one tweet read referencing the nickname of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force — or the “smoking snakes.”