The British founder of the group known as the White Helmets has been found dead in Istanbul.
A spokesman for the White Helmets confirmed the death of James Le Mesurier on Monday. He reportedly fell from a balcony though further details were yet to be established.
BBC journalist Mark Urban 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.”
Just last week, Russia had called on the UK to clarify whether the founder of the so called civil defense group had any affiliation to al-Qaeda.
The Guardian reports: Le Mesurier, 48, was found dead near his apartment in central Istanbul’s Beyoğlu neighbourhood at around 4.30am. Turkish media reports said he was found with fractures to his head and legs and appeared to have fallen from a balcony.
The office of Istanbul’s governor said it had commenced a “comprehensive” investigation. The Reuters news agency said it had been told his death was being treated as suspected suicide.
Friends said Le Mesurier had been operating for years under significant pressure from orchestrated attacks on his reputation and the stress of running a high-profile NGO.
The former British army officer founded Mayday Rescue, a not-for-profit group that organised and trained the White Helmets, officially known as Syrian Civil Defence.