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James Le Mesurier: The Life Saver Dies with a Tag of British Spy

After living his life between recognitions and allegations, an odd personality in the war-torn Syria, James Le Mesurier was found dead, on Monday. Body of the former British army officer was found near his apartment building in central Istanbul’s Beyoglu district in the early hours of November 11.

According to the reports, Le Mesurier died after falling from his balcony, and that he suffered from several fractures on his head and legs. However, the situation around his death is yet to be confirmed, and the Istanbul governor’s office said an investigation had been launched.

The 48-year-old was known for his foundation Mayday Rescue charity, which trained the members of Syria Civil Defence and managed the international government funding to it. Also known as White Helmets, it was a rescue team of civilians in Syria, saving thousands of lives from the attacks of Syrian and Russian governments.

“It is with very heavy hearts that Mayday Rescue must confirm the death of James Le Mesurier,” the organization said in a statement. “James dedicated his life to helping civilians respond to emergencies in conflicts and natural disasters. Nowhere was the impact of his important work felt so strongly as in Syria.”

In 2016, James Le Mesurier’s work in Syria was recognized by Britain, and he was awarded an Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

In 2017, White Helmets, often the only rescue workers on scene after attacks, reported the chemical weapons attacks. With the group’s assistance, the Joint Investigative Mechanism — a body created to research chemical weapons attacks in Syria by the UN Security Council and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons — confirmed that a toxic chemical compound, sarin had been used in Khan Shaykhun attacks and that the Syrian government was responsible.

Where White Helmets was rescuing civilians from the bombs and airstrikes, the attacks began to target the group and its founder. The Syrian and Russian government and media, created theories and claims that Le Mesurier had terrorist links.

Gradually, White Helmets got surrounded by conflicting theories, where it was believed to have two faces of inflicting terror and rescuing civilians in Syria. Despite that, the group remained strong to its statement of being a neutral civil defense force, which is devoted for directing its rescue efforts towards the 3 million civilians caught between a government pushing to retake territory and hard-liners.

Just three days before his death, Le Mesurier was attacked by Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova. Claiming that he had links with “terrorist groups on Friday, she tweeted, “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.”

During his lifetime, James Le Mesurier had stated that the members of White Helmets had no political intentions and were fighting to save lives. He had stated that the group comprised of normal people, who were bakers, painters, engineers, or others. “But when it was a choice between fleeing or saving lives, this is what they chose: to stay, and to make a difference,” he had said.

Le Mesurier’s death remains a mystery, but it remains known that his organization has been undertaking a massive and remarkable task of saving lives. It is unproven if he had links with terrorist groups, yet he died with an imposed tag of a British spy.

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