Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Turkey Seeking to Uncover Circumstances of White Helmets Founder’s Death

Turkey Seeking to Uncover Circumstances of White Helmets Founder’s Death

Tuesday, 12 November, 2019 - 11:00
A police officer stands at the site after former British army officer who helped found the White Helmets in Syria, James Le Mesurier's body was found in Istanbul, Turkey, November 11, 2019. (AP)

A Turkish official said Tuesday authorities are working to understand how a former British officer who helped found the White Helmets volunteer aid group in Syria died.

James Le Mesurier was found dead near his home in Istanbul on Monday. Turkish police believe he fell to his death and are investigating the circumstances.

Istanbul governor Ali Yerlikaya told reporters: "Our chief prosecutor's office, our police are engaged in multifaceted efforts to shed light on the incident."

Le Mesurier was the founder and CEO of May Day Rescue, which established and trained the White Helmets, also known as the Syria Civil Defense, a group of local humanitarian volunteers.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency reported he was 48 and had moved to Turkey with his wife four years ago.

The White Helmets 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 organization, 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.

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.

Editor Picks