Just as the White House announced plans to ramp up its ground initiative against ISIS with additional U.S. troops, one soldier has fallen. American Keith Broomfield has been killed fighting ISIS alongside Kurdish forces in Syria, according to U.S. State Department officials. Idris Nassan, a Kurdish co-deputy foreign minister, had also confirmed the death to NBC News, but did not reveal his identity. However, social media accounts named the "martyr" as Broomfield and said he was killed in the Syrian countryside surrounding the formerly ISIS-controlled town of Kobani. He was 36.
A Twitter account that follows the developments of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, the YPG, posted a YPG statement that revealed Broomfield was killed on June 3, along with the message "YPG sends their condolences to his family, the American and Kurdish people." The same account also stated that Broomfield, who was from Massachusetts, joined the Kurdish forces in February. The Kurdish Peshmerga Forces' Twitter account tweeted that Broomfield was killed "near Suluk, Rojava (Syria)." NBC News was the first to report Broomfield's death on Wednesday. Though State Department officials have been in contact with Broomfield's family, his mother, Donna, told NBC News that it was her other son who had informed her of Broomfield's death. She said in an emotional phone interview:
I didn't want him to go but I didn't have a choice in the matter.
According to her, he left home for Syria about four months ago. After he first arrived, there was initially "a little bit of texting," but she said she hadn't heard a word from him lately.
I'm waiting for his body to come back.
Besides fighting alongside the YPG, Broomfield also volunteered at Kurdish refugee camps, where he spent time with kids and locals.
Broomfield was just one of many foreign fighters who have traveled to Syria to fight ISIS. Last November, RT reported that volunteers from the U.S., Canada, and various European nations were forming an "international anti-ISIS brigade" by joining up with the YPG. Many of these men and women have military background; it is not clear at this time whether Broomfield had been in the armed forces prior to Syria.
Meanwhile, on the Iraqi front, President Obama authorized on Wednesday the deployment of up to 450 more American troops to join ground forces in Iraq. The new troops will train and assist the Iraqi forces "to improve their ability to plan, lead, and conduct operations against ISIL in eastern Anbar," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. The new deployment will bring the total number of American troops in Iraq to 3,550.
Images: Keith Broomfield/Facebook