First American YPG fighter killed in battle against ISIS

Published 10.06.2015 21:23
Updated 10.06.2015 21:33

An American man named Keith Broomfield who had volunteered to fight with Kurdish forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has been killed in Syria, a U.S. State Department spokesman said on Wednesday.

Department spokesman Jeff Rathke identified the American as 36-year-old Keith Broomfield but declined to provide details "out of respect for the privacy of Mr. Broomfield's family." He added that the U.S. was providing consular assistance to his family.

Keith Broomfield of Massachusetts died June 3 in a battle in the Syrian village of Qentere, which is near the border town of Kobani, said Nasser Haji, an official with a group of Kurdish fighters known as the YPG. He had joined the YPG on February 24 under the nom de guerre Gelhat Raman, Haji said.

Haji did not elaborate on the circumstances of Broomfield's death, nor did he know the man's hometown.

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.

Many are spurred on by Kurdish social media campaigners and a sense of duty rooted in the 2003 U.S.-led military invasion of Iraq. And while the U.S. and its coalition allies bomb the extremists from the air, Kurds say they hope more Westerners will join them on the ground to fight.

Previously, a British citizen, an Australian and a German woman have been killed fighting with the Kurds.

Backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria have successfully pushed back Islamic State group militants from Kobani and scores of nearby villages. More recently, they have closed in on the Islamic State-held town of Tal Abyad near the Turkish border. The town is the Islamic State group's main access point to Turkey from Raqqa, the group's de facto capital in Syria.

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