Key Syrian White Helmets Backer Found Dead in Istanbul
The founder of an organization that trained the Syrian “White Helmets” emergency response group has died in Istanbul.
Anadolu Agency said James Le Mesurier's body was found early Monday near his home in Istanbul's Beyoglu district by worshippers on their way to a mosque to pray.
An investigation has been launched into his death, Anadolu said, adding that police believe he may have fallen to his death.
A security source told Reuters it was believed that Le Mesurier had fallen from the balcony of his home office and his death was being treated as a suspected suicide. A third person, a diplomat, said the circumstances around his death were unclear.
Police had established that no one had entered or left his home at the time of his death, Anadolu reported.
The White Helmets, known officially as Syria Civil Defense, have been credited with saving thousands of people in opposition-held areas during years of bombing by Syrian regime and Russian forces in the country’s war.
Mayday Rescue, a not-for-profit organisation, began its operations in 2014 and established an office in Istanbul in 2015 to support its Syria project. Its projects have been funded by the United Nations and various governments, its website said.
Mayday Rescue did not immediately respond to an emailed Reuters query about Le Mesurier.
A former British army officer, Le Mesurier was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth in 2016 for services to Syria Civil Defense and the protection of civilians in Syria.