James Le Mesurier dead – Murder fears as White Helmets founder ‘fell to death’ after Russia accused him of being spy – The Sun

JAMES Le Mesurier, the Brit behind the Syrian civil war White Helmets volunteer rescue group has died just days after Russian officials accused him of being a spy.

The former British Army Officer reportedly fell to his death from a balcony at his home in Istanbul early on Monday morning.

A security source said it was believed that Le Mesurier had fallen from the balcony of his home office with his death being treated as a suspected suicide.

According to the source, his wife had told police the pair had both taken sleeping pills around 4am, she then awoke to discover her husband was lying on the street surrounded by police.


However, a third person – a diplomat – said the circumstances around his death were unclear, with this sentiment echoed on social media.

In a series of now-deleted tweets, BBC journalist Mark Urban said: "It not would have been possible" to fall from Le Mesurier's balcony.

He has since tweeted: "There’s a good deal of suspicion it may be murder by a state actor, but others suggest he may have taken his own life."

In 2014, Le Mesurier founded the Mayday Rescue Foundation – which went on to organise and train the White Helmets.

The White Helmets' official Twitter account today tweeted: "The Syrian Civil Defense family extends its deepest condolences to the James family, and we express our deepest sorrow and solidarity with his family.

"As we also must commend his humanitarian efforts which Syrians will always remember."

Known officially as Syria Civil Defence, they are credited with saving tens of thousands of people in rebel-held areas during years of bombing by Syrian government and Russian forces in the country's civil war.

Russia – which has close ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – has previously slammed the White Helmets and accused them of supporting terrorist organisations.

It was reported on Twitter that the Istanbul Governer's office has announced a "wide ranging administrative and judicial investigation" into Le Mesurier's death.


In many areas of war-torn Syria, the white helmets were the only emergency medical workers able to help civilians wounded during Russian and government air strikes.

The group, which operates in opposition-held areas, is often targeted in Syrian government attacks on its members and facilities.

They also faced push-back from opposing groups after they exposed a series of war-crimes, including a horrific chemical attack outside Damascus, in 2017.

The Syrian government considers the group a "terrorist" organisation because it works in areas controlled by its opponents, where state institutions and services are non-existent.

In 2018, it was reported that 422 volunteers and family members had been evacuated from a war-zone in Syria by Israeli forces.

The UK also helped with the re-settlement of the volunteers, re-homing 100 Syria White Helmets and family members earlier this year.

Raed al-Salah, the head of the organisation told The Independent: "We were informed by [Le Mesuirer's] family that he had died.


  • The White Helmets are a volunteer organisation that operates in parts of opposition-controlled Syria and in Turkey, founded in 2014
  • They were formed during the Syrian Civil War
  • They work throughout the war-torn areas, carrying out medical evacuation, urban search and rescue after bombings, civilian evacuation and other essential and emergency service delivery
  • As of 2018, the organisation said it had saved over 114,000 lives, with 204 White Helmet volunteers losing their lives in the process
  • The group have been targeted in a misinformation campaign by Russian and Assad supporters, and accused of having links with terrorist organisations and staging their rescue missions, according to investigations by various journalists
  • They're also banned from entering Kurdish controlled areas of Syria



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"We read that the police found his body outside his home in Istanbul. But as of now, the police are investigating the case and have drawn no conclusions yet. We are waiting for the police report."

Mr Salah said the White Helmets were "devastated" upon hearing the news.

The White Helmets gained worldwide acclaim in 2016 when a British documentary on the group won an Oscar and they were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2016.

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