An American citizen has died while fighting against ISIS in Syria. The State Department confirmed that Keith Lewis Broomfield had been in the country fighting for the Kurdish YPG forces when he was killed. Broomfield, the first American to die in the fighting, was killed in the troubled region of Kobane. Keith Broomfield was 36 years old.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. His Mother ‘Didn’t Want Him to Go to Syria but Didn’t Have a Choice in the Matter’
NBC News was the first to report on Broomfield’s death. His mother, Donna, told the network “I didn’t want him to go but I didn’t have a choice in the matter.” She added that since he left for Syria, Broomfield had contacted her through a “little bit of texting” but nothing more. The Broomfield family are waiting for his body to be returned to the U.S. It was her other son who told Donna Broomfield that her son had been killed.
2. Broomfield Joined Kurdish Forces in February 2015
Several pro-Kurdish Facebook and Twitter accounts have mourned the loss of Broomfield, referring to him as a “martyr.” Those accounts say that Broomfield was a native of Massachusetts. He had been in Syria since February 2015. According to a YPG statement, Broomfield was killed on June 3, 2015 in a place called the Qentere village in Kobane. On the pro-Kurdish Lions of Rojava Facebook page, it says that ISIS has put offered a $150,000 reward for the capture of foreigners fighting for the YPG.
3. His Sister Wrote on Facebook That Despite Everything She Still Prays for ISIS & Peace
On her Facebook page, Jennifer Broomfield wrote:
…My unspoken prayers and tears for those in the Middle East were answered when he left to fight. I didn’t think I would lose him. Please pray for peace. Pray for those who are fighting and those lost. Boldly as God asks us to I pray for ISIS. This needs to end. Love you big brother.
She also posted the last exchanges she had with her brother:
In a 2007 interview, she described the Broomfield family upbringing saying “I had a wonderful childhood, raised in a Christian home and had plenty of siblings to play/rival with.” She adds “I have three brothers and two sisters. Big fam, love ’em.”
4. His Facebook Page Shows Him Working in Kurdish Refugee Camps
A Facebook page for Broomfield shows little information other than photos of Broomfield in Syria with Kurdish people. The page was set up in February 2015, around the time that he first traveled to Syria. His father, Thomas Broomfield, is the owner of Broomfield Laboratories, a coil-winding machinery company in Bolton, Massachusetts. In the about section of the company’s website, Thomas Broomfield’s faith in Jesus is mentioned. Thomas Broomfield also taught Sunday school with his wife and is a church elder.
5. There Are Still Many Americans Fighting in Syria Against ISIS
Broomfield is one of the many Americans who have traveled to Syria to fight ISIS under the flag of the Kurdish People’s Protection Union more commonly known as the YPG. Among those is Joshua Bell, a former contestant on the Discovery channel’s Naked & Afraid. According to a Facebook page dedicated to helping Bell raise the $3,500 needed to send him to Syria, he spend four years in the United States Marine Corps. While there he achieved the rank of corporal. He has been deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Since landing in Syria on November 10, he has joined the Lions Of Rojava, the foreign legion of fighters battling ISIS in Kurdistan. In a breathtakingly honest Facebook post, Bell wrote about going to Syria:
I ain’t doing it for glory, or praise, or fame, or money. It needs to be done. I am scared s***less. But if you ain’t scared you are a liability.
There is a part of my life I do not share very often. I am absolute hell in a gunfight. I learned early on in the Marine Corps that I had extreme combat proficiency. Skills that I quickly honed, and still continue to sharpen regularly.