Key Syrian 'White Helmets' backer found dead in Istanbul

Circumstances of the death Monday of James Le Mesurier, founder of the Mayday Rescue group, are not clear.
Monday 11/11/2019
A Turkish police officer leaves the scene of the Mayday Rescue offices on November 11, 2019, in the Karakoy district of Istanbul, following the discovery of the body of the organisation's founder. (AFP)
A Turkish police officer leaves the scene of the Mayday Rescue offices on November 11, 2019, in the Karakoy district of Istanbul, following the discovery of the body of the organisation's founder. (AFP)

The founder of an organisation that trained the Syrian "White Helmets" emergency response group has died in Istanbul, his neighbour and a diplomat said on Monday.

James Le Mesurier, the founder of the Mayday Rescue group, was found dead early on Monday near his home in central Istanbul's Beyoglu district, the neighbour said. The diplomat said the circumstances around his death were unclear.

The White Helmets, known officially as Syria Civil Defence, have been credited with saving thousands of people in rebel-held areas during years of bombing by Syrian government and Russian forces in the country's civil war.

Mayday Rescue is a not-for-profit organisation with offices in Amsterdam and Istanbul whose projects have been funded by the United Nations and various governments. Mayday Rescue did not immediately respond to an emailed query about Le Mesurier. 

(Reuters)