SDF pays tribute to American internationalist Keith Broomfield, who came to Kobanê, saying, “I am here to be a part of the movement and to do my best to help” and fell a martyr nine years ago.

While clashes that erupted in Kobanê escalated after September 15, 2014, internationalists from all over the world arrived in the city to join this historical resistance of honour. One of these internationalists was an American, Keith Broomfield, who expressed the reason for his participation in the struggle in the following words: “I’m here to be a part of the movement, to do my best to help. You know, after all this, it seems to be the most correct thing to do.”

Keith Broomfield was born on March 8, 1978, in Massachusetts, United States, as the son of Tom and Donna Broomfield. Broomfield worked as the production manager at his family’s manufacturing firm in Massachusetts. He stated that a new page was opened for him after a motorcycle accident, after which he wanted to continue his life with struggle. He heard about the resistance in Kobanê against ISIS that occupied Mosul and many regions in Iraq and Syria, and about internationalist fighters taking part in this historic resistance. He set off from America and arrived in Rojava and crossed into Kobanê on February 24. He joined the struggle and adopted his nom de guerre, Gelhat Rûmet.

Gelhat was martyred on June 3, 2015 in clashes that erupted during the operations against ISIS in the village of Qentere, west of Kobanê. The people of Kobanê and his comrades held a ceremony to honour his struggle and sacrifice and delivered his body to his family at the Mürşit Pınar Border Gate. He was laid to rest in his hometown of Massachusetts. An obituary during his funeral ceremony said: “There is only one thing that is most valuable to a person, and that is his life. He gave his life for my people and the land of Kurdistan. We will consider him a hero forever.”

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) released a statement paying tribute to internationalist Keith Broomfield on the ninth anniversary of his martyrdom.

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The SDF statement said the following:

“Keith Broomfield, born in 1978 in Massachusetts, USA, lived a peaceful life working in his family’s manufacturing business. However, a life-altering event in 2015 prompted him to seek a more profound purpose.

Deeply affected by the atrocities committed by ISIS, Keith felt a moral imperative to intervene. He recognized the struggle for freedom and justice faced by the people of northern and eastern Syria and yearned to contribute.

Despite lacking prior military experience, Keith’s courage and determination led him to join the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in 2015, taking the code name “Gelhat Rumet.” His bravery and combat skills quickly earned him recognition as a skilled fighter and sniper.

Keith participated valiantly in the Robar Qamishlo campaign which was launched to liberate the al-Jazira province from ISIS and lift the siege on Kobani. He articulated the essence of the struggle: “The campaign is a fight against oppression, it is a fight for freedom.” He added, “All religions and beliefs are present here. I am a Christian with Sunnis, Shiites, and Yazidis, and we are all trying to achieve freedom for all.

On June 3, 2015, the martyr “Keith” and his comrades were advancing towards the southeastern lines of Kobani, and when they reached al-Chalabiya town, a fierce battle erupted with ISIS terrorists. Keith and his comrades fought bravely, but “Keith” was seriously wounded, which led to his martyrdom, becoming the first American and fourth internationalist martyr in the conflict. The world lost a courageous fighter and a noble soul on that day.

Keith’s sacrifice will forever be etched in the memory of those fighting for freedom and justice in north and eastern Syria. The people of Kobani and his fellow YPG comrades held a dignified ceremony to honor his bravery and sacrifice. His body was returned to his family in Massachusetts for burial, ensuring his memory lives on as a symbol of human heroism.

Every year, on the anniversary of his death, delegations from the Kurdish community in the United States, along with his family, visit his grave. They carry photographs of Keith, alongside the flags of the YPG and YPJ, solidifying his resting place as a symbol of courage and dedication to a higher purpose.”


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