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Keith Broomfield, American Slain Fighting ISIS, 'Knew the Risk'

by Tracy Connor /  / Updated  / Source: Associated Press

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In a video made before his death, Keith Broomfield explained why he had left small-town Massachusetts for the war-torn towns of Syria to join the Kurds in fighting ISIS.

"It seems like the right thing to do," the 36-year-old said in a propaganda video that was released by a group affiliated with the Kurdish People's Protection Union, known as YPG.

"I just want to help the cause any way I can."

It was unclear when the short video was made. Broomfield traveled to Syria about four months ago, according to his family, and his death was confirmed on Wednesday by the State Department.

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Kobani on Thursday, waving flags and applauding, as his body was delivered over the border to Turkey for the journey back to Massachusetts.

Broomfield is believed to be the first U.S. citizen killed while fighting alongside the Kurds against the Islamic State.

His family said that after getting into some trouble when he was younger, Keith had turned his life around and turned to religion.

He believed it was God's will that he go help the suffering Kurds, and he took the sudden disappearance of pain from an old motorcycle accident as a divine message.

"He knew the risk. He understood those. He believed in opposing evil, which I believe in, too," said his older brother, Andy Broomfield.

The family received some messages from Broomfield after he got to Turkey, but communication ended as he entered what they assume was "enemy territory."

They feared that he had been killed well before they got a call Tuesday morning with the news.

"I went to my kids and I just cried with them about it," his father, Tom Broomfield, said through tears. "It's a tough think but we have a peace about it."

The close-knit family expects that the body will be returned to them on Saturday.

"Just knowing that we'll never all be together again is really difficult," said one of the six siblings, Corinne Maleski.

"We have a wonderful family [but] it's broken and there's a hole there."

Another sister, Jennifer Broomfield, issued an impassioned message for peace on her Facebook page.

"My brother died to defend my sisters who are being sold, enslaved, raped and murdered. To defend my brothers who are shot beheaded and dumped into piles off trucks."

"If we allow this war to continue we are ignoring that we are all sisters and brothers," she wrote.

"My brother died to defend my sisters who are being sold, enslaved, raped and murdered. To defend my brothers who are shot beheaded and dumped into piles off trucks," she wrote.

"This can not continue. This needs to end.

"I don't care what country we are from."

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