Syria’s disinformation wars and the untimely death of the White Helmets’ founder | News

In November 2019, James Le Mesurier, the British co-founder of the Syrian rescue group known as the White Helmets, fell to his death in Istanbul.

The Guardian’s Middle East correspondent, Martin Chulov, knew James well and had spoken to him the week before his death. He tells Anushka Asthana how he began investigating one of the most difficult stories of his career: what led his friend, an internationally celebrated humanitarian, to take his own life?

The story takes him through the conflict in Syria and the disinformation being waged against those who stand up to the forces of Bashar al-Assad. He describes how the strain of a financial audit of Mayday, James’s company, distressed his friend, who feared losing everything amid allegations of misuse of company money. An investigation after James’s death would find no evidence of misappropriation of funds.

Members of the Syrian civil defence, known as the White Helmets, pull out an injured child from under the rubble after a reported Russian air strike on Maaret al-Numan in Syria's northwestern Idlib province on 22 July 2019



Photograph: Abdulaziz Ketaz/AFP/Getty Images

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