Keith Broomfield, a 36-year-old Massachusetts native, has died in combat assisting Syrian Kurdish soldiers in a skirmish against forces of the Islamic State, the State Department confirmed Wednesday.

Rumors of Broomfield’s death began trickling in early Wednesday morning across social media accounts allied with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, colloquially known as the YPG.

A YPG spokesman told the AP that Broomfield had joined with the Kurds against ISIS in February under the pseudonym “Gelhat Raman.” A Facebook account opened in Broomfield’s name around that time includes several photos of him in Kurdish territory, but it’s possible someone else was posting updates to the account.

A State Department spokesman confirmed Broomfield’s death but did not share any details surrounding the firefight, which allegedly occurred in Qentere, around the heavily disputed Syrian area of Kobani. He is believed to be the first American who died fighting ISIS; an Australian with the YPG died about the same time Broomfield joined up, and several Americans have died fighting on ISIS’s side in the expanding conflict.

NBC News reports that Broomfield’s mother, Donna, learned of Keith’s fate from her other son:

“I didn’t want him to go but I didn’t have a choice in the matter,” she tearfully told NBC News over the phone from Westminster, Massachusetts.

She said that her son had left to fight around four months ago and that while there was “a little bit of texting” after he first arrived, lately she had heard “nothing.”

“I’m waiting for his body to come back,” she added.

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