Accessibility links

First American Reported Killed Fighting IS

  • Joanna Paraszczuk

Keith Broomfield, 36, reportedly the first American killed fighting Islamic State, undated

Keith Broomfield, 36, reportedly the first American killed fighting Islamic State, undated

The body of a man believed to be the first U.S. citizen killed fighting alongside Kurdish forces against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria has been returned to his family.

Keith Broomfield, 36, was reported killed on June 3 in a battle with IS in the village of Qentere near Kobani. The U.S. Department of State confirmed Broomfield's death on June 10 but did not give details.

Broomfield's body was returned to his family on June 11.

Broomfield, from Lynn in Massachusetts, joined the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria on February 24 and took the nom de guerre Gelhat Rumet, according to a profile posted on a YPG website.

In undated video footage shared by the YPG on June 10, Broomfield says he joined the Kurdish militia because it "seems like the right thing to do."

"I'm here to be part of the movement, whatever I can do to assist that," Broomfield says in the 41-second video.

The YPG had "put up a hell of a fight there [in Kobani]," Broomfield said. "But it's a bit of a mess right now."

The YPG said in a statement that Broomfield had been "martyred," and praised him for his "true morale and friendship."

Hundreds of people reportedly turned out in Kobani to pay their respects to Broomfield before his body was returned to his family. The Lions Of Rojava Facebook page, which says it is run by Western volunteers fighting alongside the YPG, posted photographs purporting to show people bidding farewell to Broomfield.

Broomfield's mother, Donna, told NBC News that she did not want her son to go to Syria. "I didn't have a choice in the matter," she said.

A woman saying she is Broomfield's sister posted on Facebook that her brother had told his family, "how can I do nothing when I have two arms to fight with."

Jennifer Broomfield posted photographs of Broomfield as well as a screen grab of what she said is the last text-message conversation she had with her brother before he went to Syria.

"Sometimes you got to be a man wether [sic] you want to or not," Broomfield wrote to his sister.

Scott Wolf, an American veteran who is also fighting alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq, praised Broomfield in a post on Facebook. "My thoughts go to his family," he wrote. "He is a definition of Hero. He gave his life for a noble cause he had no responsibility for to help those in need."

Broomfield is the fourth Western volunteer to have been killed fighting IS alongside Kurdish forces.

Ashley Johnston, an Australian; Konstandinos Scurfield, a British citizen; and a German woman, 19-year-old Ivana Hoffman, have previously been reported killed in Syria.

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

Subscribe

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG