let’s go with pablo!

British founder of White Helmets found dead in Istanbul
Michael Safi, Graun, Nov 11 2019

The British founder of the organisation that trained the Syrian rescue group known as the White Helmets has died in Istanbul. A spokesman for the White Helmets confirmed on Monday afternoon the death of James Le Mesurier, but said further details were yet to be confirmed. A diplomat told Reuters that Le Mesurier was found dead near his apartment in central Istanbul’s Beyoglu neighbourhood. Turkish media reports said he was found with fractures to his head and legs near the apartment building on Monday morning. The former soldier founded Mayday Rescue, a not-for-profit group that established and trained the White Helmets, officially known as Syrian Civil Defence. The volunteer group, made up of more than 3,000 volunteers, operates inside opposition-held areas in Syria and has been credited with saving the lives of thousands of victims of Russian and Syrian airstrikes and bombings. White Helmet workers rush to the scenes of bombings to try to rescue the wounded from the rubble. They have also helped to document alleged war crimes, including the use of chemical weapons. The group continues to operate in Idlib, the last opposition-held territory in Syria, and three of its volunteers were injured in Russian shelling that killed three people last week, it said. The Guardian has previously documented how the organisation has been the target of a disinformation campaign, conducted with the support of the Russian government, that positions it as an AQ-linked terrorist organisation. Le Mesurier had been targeted by similar campaigns and was targeted by Russia’s foreign ministry as recently as last week. The group’s funders currently include the British and German governments. The Trump administration froze Pindo funding, which made up about one-third of the total, without public explanation in early 2018, but resumed giving financial aid last month amid criticism of its decision to withdraw Pindo troops from north-eastern Syria. The White Helmets have been nominated for the Nobel peace prize several times and a documentary about the group won an Oscar in 2017.

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