First US volunteer dies while fighting ISIS alongside Kurdish militia during artillery exchange in Syria
- Named as Keith Broomfield, of Westminster near Boston, Massachusetts
- 36-year-old volunteered to join YPG militia in February and died June 3
- His mother said: ‘He decided this was God’s will and God wanted him to go’
- He is believed to be the fourth Western volunteer to die fighting for YPG against jihadi group ISIS, including Briton Konstantinos Scurfield
A volunteer fighter has become the first American to be killed while serving with the Kurdish YPG in Syria.
Keith Broomfield, 36, originally from the town of Westminster near Boston, Massachusetts, joined the volunteer fighting group on February 24 and died on June 3 in a battle in the village of Qentere.
He died near the border town of Kobani, said Nasser Haji, an official with the YPG.
State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke confirmed Bloomfield’s death, but declined to provide any details about the circumstances. He said the US was providing consular assistance to his family.
Broomfield’s mother, Donna, told NBC News from the family home in Westminster that she learned from her other son that Keith, who had been the production manager for the family’s manufacturing firm, was dead.
She said: ‘He turned his life over to the Lord and he decided this was God’s will and God wanted him to do it.’
Mrs Broomfield said her son had left to fight around four months ago and while there was ‘a little bit of texting’ after he first arrived, lately she had heard ‘nothing’.
She said: ‘I didn’t want him to go but I didn’t have a choice in the matter.
‘I’m waiting for his body to come back.’
The People’s Protection Unit (YPG for short) created a foreign brigade called the Lions of Rojava to allow volunteers from around the world to join the Kurdish militia in their fight against ISIS.
Those who put themselves forward are given a Kurdish nom de guerre when they join and Broomfield’s was Gelhat Rûmet.
On the Lions of Rojava Facebook page, he was described as a ‘brave American warrior [who] came to Kobane because he could not lean back and watch the atrocities which were committed by ISIS.’
The post continued, ‘He felt very connected to the Kurdish people and was a very generous and freedom loving person.
‘So one day our brave warrior Keith decided to make his way to Rojava and to join the fight with the YPG. He booked his flight from the United States and joined the cause.
‘Keith’s generosity could be seen in his visits to the refugee camp of Suruc [Turkish town near the Syrian border] and his desire to help the poor children who are growing up in such a dangerous environment.
‘He was a warrior with the courage and the heart of a lion. We want to thank his mother Donna for giving birth and raising such a wonderful son.
‘Our hearts go out to her, his family and the American people. We thank you for your sacrifice and just want to let you know that we are crying with you. But we also want to let you know that his death will be avenged.
‘We will let ISIS feel what it means to kill one of our brothers. We will chase them from our land to the gates of hell. There will be no mercy and no turning back.’
The Save Kobani page added, ‘First American YPG fighter, Keith Thomas Broomfield (Gelhat Rûmet) from Massachusetts, has been reported as martyred in clashes with ISIS close to the village of Qenter in Kobane region.
‘You were a friend of the Kurdish people, a hero of justice and humanity. May you rest in peace, you will forever stay alive in our hearts.’
The fight against the Islamic State group has attracted dozens of Westerners, including a number of Iraq war veterans who have made their way back to the Middle East to join Kurdish fighters, who have been most successful against the extremist group.
Broomfield is believed to be the fourth foreign volunteer to die fighting for the YPG against the jihadis of ISIS.
Australian volunteer Ashley Johnston was killed by ISIS militants in north-eastern Syria in late February.
A former rifleman and trained combat medic in the Australian army, Johnston travelled to Iraqi Kurdistan and joined the YPG last year.
At the beginning of March British fighter Konstantinos Scurfield became the second volunteer to be killed by ISIS militants while fighting with the YPG.
Originally from Barnsley, northern England, Scurfield joined the group at the start of 2015, adopting the name Sehid Kemal.
And German woman volunteer Ivana Hoffmann, 19, died a few days after Scurfield near the Syrian town of Tel Tamr.
Many Westerners are spurred on by Kurdish social media campaigners and a sense of duty rooted in the 2003 US-led military invasion of Iraq.
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