Founder of Syria ‘White Helmets’ force found dead in Turkey

Former British Army officer James Le Mesurier, who founded the “White Helmets” volunteer force in Syria, was found dead in Turkey Monday.

Rescue workers with the volunteer White Helmets group aid victims of a car bomb attack in Idlib, Syria, in 2017.

Authorities said they found Le Mesurier’s body near his home in central Istanbul Monday.

Le Mesurier in recent days has been accused of spying for Britain. The Russian government called him a “former agent” of British intelligence agency MI6 and said he has “connections to terrorist groups … back during his mission in Kosovo.”

Le Mesurier founded the White Helmets, or Syria Civil Defense, in 2014 to protect civilians during the nation’s civil war.

“Police are investigating the case and have drawn no conclusions yet,” said SCD leader Raed al-Salah. “James is a close friend to us and to the Syrian people.”

The White Helmets organization was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 and has received funding from Britain and the United States. A Netflix documentary, The White Helmets, on the group won the 2016 Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject.

Le Mesurier also founded the Mayday Rescue group, a United Nations-supported nonprofit organization with offices in Istanbul and Amsterdam.

ByNicholas Sakelaris