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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

American fighting with Kurds killed in Islamic State battle

An American fighting with Kurdish forces against the Islamic State group 
in Syria has been killed in battle, authorities said Wednesday, likely 
the first U.S. citizen to die fighting alongside them against the 
extremists.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 Feb. 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.

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke
confirmed Bloomfield's death, but declined to provide any details about
the circumstances. He said the U.S. was providing consular assistance 
to his family.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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