The body of the man presumed to be the first American to die fighting the Islamic State group will be returned in Turkey to his family, said a Kurdish militia in a statement on Thursday, reports Reuters. The man, whom the U.S. State Department identified as Keith Broomfield on Wednesday, was killed in Syria fighting near the border town of Kobani against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, according to a statement by the People's Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish militia with which he was fighting.
The YPG did not say when the body will be returned to his family, but the militia did say in their statement that Broomfield's family has left the United States to travel to Mursitpinar, a gate along the Turkish border, to receive his body.
Broomfield, 36, hails from Massachusetts and was one of many Americans who have traveled to Syria to join the YPG and fight against ISIS. "I didn't want him to go, but I didn't have a choice in the matter," said Broomfield's mother, Donna, to NBC News over the phone from Westminster, Massachusetts. She added that apart from "a little bit of texting" when he arrived, she had heard "nothing."
The YPG claims that Broomfield joined the group in February, according to Reuters. "Broomfield was fighting alongside the Kurdish People's Protection Units in the Kobani countryside when he was killed battling against ISIS," Iris Nassan, co-deputy foreign minister of the Kobani district, told CNN on Wednesday. "He had become well-acquainted with the militiamen, even earning the Kurdish nom de guerre Damhad [meaning, 'It's time to do something']."
Jennifer Broomfield, who identified herself as Keith Broomfield's sister on Facebook, wrote on her page that her "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," reports CNN.
The YPG and other Kurdish forces drove the ISIS militants from Kobani, where Broomfield was killed, in January and recently began an offensive against the radical jihadist group.
In their statement, the YPG said that the U.S. Consulate in the southern Turkish province of Adana had been told of Broomfield's death and the arrival of his family to retrieve the body, according to Reuters.
"I'm waiting for his body to come back," said Donna Broomfield to NBC News.