White Helmet Trainer James Le Mesurier Has Been Found Dead

    A spokesperson for the British Foreign Office said: "We are deeply saddened by the news of the death of James Le Mesurier. Our condolences go out to his family and friends at this difficult time."

    Twitter.com / Omar Haj Kadour / Getty Images

    The founder of an organisation who trained the Syrian emergency response group known as the White Helmets has been found dead, according to reports.

    James Le Mesurier, founder of the Mayday Rescue Foundation, was found dead early Monday morning near his home in central Istanbul’s Beyoglu district, his neighbour said. A Turkish diplomat told Reuters the circumstances of his death were unclear.

    In 2014, Le Mesurier, a former British Army officer, founded the Mayday Rescue Foundation, which organises, trains, and equips first responders in conflict zones.

    The not-for-profit organisation has played a key role in training the White Helmets, officially known as Syria Civil Defence, which has been credited for saving thousands of people in rebel-held areas during years of bombing by the Syrian government and Russian forces in the country’s civil war.

    His death comes just days after he was accused of being a spy in a tweet by Russia's foreign ministry.

    Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry, referred to Le Mesurier on Friday as a “former agent of Britain’s MI6, who has been spotted all around the world”.

    Her comments, which were shared on Twitter, further accused Le Mesurier of working as a spy in the Balkans and the Middle East.

    #Zakharova: The White Helmets’ co-founder, James Le Mesurier, is a former agent of Britain’s MI6, who has been spotted all around the world, including in the #Balkans and the #MiddleEast. His connections to terrorist groups were reported back during his mission in #Kosovo.

    Georgia Chambers is a news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Georgia Chambers at georgia.chambers@buzzfeed.com.

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