Kurds' farewell to American volunteer killed in IS battle

Kurds' farewell to American volunteer killed in IS battle
Syrian Kurds line streets of Kobane to pay respects to Keith Broomfield, who was killed while fighting alongside Kurdish forces against the Islamic State group last week.
2 min read
12 June, 2015
Kobane residents bid farewell to Keith Broomfield (insert) [Getty]

Hundreds of Kurds turned out to bid farewell to an American who died fighting with Kurdish forces against the Islamic State group in nothern Syria.

Keith Broomfield, 36, was killed last week while fighting in a village near Kobane as a volunteer for the People's Protection Units, known as the YPG.

On Thursday evening, hundreds of people took to the streets of Kobane as his body travelled through the town and towards the Mursitpinar gate border crossing with Turkey, where it was handed over to relatives.

Residents waved Kurdish flags and applauded as his coffin was driven through the streets in a white van.

Broomfield, from Massachusetts, was one of hundreds of foreigners fighting with the YPG.

His older brother, Andy, said he was shocked when his brother first told him about his plans but eventually understood his decisions.

"He believed in opposing evil," he said. "Somebody needs to stand up and oppose evil."

His father, Tom, said his son went to Syria with no contacts and knew it was "a crazy thing to do" but felt strongly that he needed to help in some way. "He just felt he should be going," he said.

The YPG on Thursday posted a video that showed Broomfield saying he was in Syria "to do what I can to help Kurdistan. With everything that's been going on, it seems like the right thing to do... I just want to help the cause anyway I can."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-rebel activist group based in the UK, said more than 400 foreign fighters have joined the YPG to fight the Islamic State group in recent months.

They include Europeans, Americans, Australians and thousands of Kurdish fighters from Turkey and Iran.

Broomfield is believed to be the first American citizen to die while fighting with the YPG. A British citizen, an Australian and a German woman has also been killed fighting with the Kurds.