On the way to the grave, Abdel Hameed Alyousef asked a cousin to video his farewell to his children as he sat in the front seat of a van being loaded with bodies.
Another member of the family, Aya Fadl, recalled running from her house with her 20-month-old son in her arms, thinking she could find safety from the toxic gas in the street. Instead, the 25-yearold English teacher was confronted face to face with the horror of it: A pick-up truck piled with the bodies of the dead, including many of her own relatives and students.
But a year later, chlorine gas attacks became recurrent, killing scores of people.
They were dead. All are dead now.” “I saw them.
Fadl remembered her panic when the rockets woke her.
That’s when Fadl finally collapsed, she said, only to wake up in a medical centre.
The U.S.’s early assessment is that it involved the use of chlorine and sarin, according to two U.S. officials who weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity. A Doctors Without Borders medical team, which examined a number of victims in a hospital near the border with Turkey, said the symptoms are consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent— at least two different chemical agents.
He’s being treated for exposure to the toxin, “but he’s especially broken down over his massive loss.” “Abdel Hameed is in very bad shape,” said his cousin, Alaa Alyousef.
Syria chemical attack death toll rises; new airstrikes hit
They’re all dead now,” he said. He found the bodies of two of his brothers, two nephews and a niece, as well as neighbours and friends. He brought them to paramedics and, thinking they would be OK, went to look for the rest of his family. “I couldn’t save anyone.
It was only later that his relatives could bring themselves to tell him that his children and wife had also died.
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The high number of casualties, as well as the grave symptoms including convulsions, constricted pupils and vomiting point to a more complex chemical gas. However, Tuesday’s massacre was not caused by chlorine, an irritant with limited ability to kill.
The courtyard was turned into a makeshift morgue where surviving relatives tried for hours to resuscitate loved ones already dead. The Alyousefs brought their dead to a family member’s home that was outside the worst attack area.
Stroking their hair, he choked back tears, mumbling, “Say goodbye, baby, say goodbye” to their lifeless bodies. BEIRUT — The grief-stricken father cradled his 9-month-old twins, Aya and Ahmed, each in the crook of an arm.
(IHA via AP) In this photo taken made available Wednesday, April 5, a victim of alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syrian city of Idlib, is seen at a local hospital in Reyhanli, Turkey.
A Russian-brokered deal followed allowing Assad to declare he has destroyed his chemical stockpile and joined the Chemical Weapons Convention. In 2013, horrific scenes of Syrians flooding hospitals or found dead in their homes after a sarin gas attack that killed hundreds in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta provoked international condemnation.
The Alyousef family, one of the town’s main clans, was hardest hit. More than 80 people, including at least 30 children and 20 women, were killed in the chemical attack on the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun early Tuesday, and the toll could still rise.
“The air became very heavy. “My husband, where are you? But the air was so heavy to breathe.” “They were next to me but I couldn’t see them.” She said their eyes began hurting. Oh, where are you my lovely son,” she recalled calling out. There was no bad smell.
His father went outside then rushed back in. Alaa Alyousef said his family was sleeping and woke to the sound of the impacts only a few hundred yards (meters) away. The family frantically closed windows and dampened cloths with water and apple vinegar to put over their faces. He had seen a woman walking near the strike suddenly collapse. The first thing they saw was smoke.
Witnesses say four rockets hit around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, smashing a crater in the ground, but causing minimal structural damage. It quickly became clear this was not a conventional attack.
While Fadl recovers with her son at her parents’ home in a town north of Khan Sheikoun, her husband is still looking for survivors from his extended family.
When the airstrikes hit, he was with his twin daughter and son. “They were conscious at first, but 10 minutes later we could smell the odour.” “I carried them outside the house with their mother,” the 29-year-old shop owner told the AP.
Each branch of the clan got its own trench. Then Abdel Hameed Alyousef took them to a mass grave where 22 members of his family were being buried.
Suspected Syria gas attack kills dozens, including children
The twins and his wife, Dalal Ahmed, fell sick.
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Everyone was crying and couldn’t breathe,” Fadl told The Associated Press Wednesday in a series of voice messages. This is the most difficult and most harmful situation I ever had.” “We had many circumstances in Syria and we had many difficult situations. “My heart is broken. Everything was terrible.
On Tuesday, he and other family members buried the clan’s dead in the mass grave.
“Ammar, Aya, Mohammed, Ahmad, I love you my birds, really they were like birds. Aunt Sana, Uncle Yasser, Abdul-Kareem, please hear me,” Fadl said, choking back tears as she recalled how she said farewell to her relatives in the pile.
The U.S. and other Western countries accused President Bashar Assad of being behind the attack, while Syria and its main backer Russia denied it. Despite world condemnation, bringing justice is difficult in the absence of independent investigation of Syria’s chemical arsenal, which the government insists it has destroyed.
We are afraid to enter homes sometimes lest we find more people dead.” Our family is devastated,” the 27-year-old said. “We are still in shock, a big shock. “Many are still missing.
Alaa Alyousef said not all homes have been searched for survivors yet.
In Khan Sheikhoun, the tragedy was compounded because so many victims were from a single extended family, the Alyousef clan.
Frantically the clan’s members and their neighbours fled, running from house to house trying to track down relatives. The rockets hit on the edge of North Harah, a district where much of the Alyousef clan lives.
The tragedy has devastated the town of several tens of thousands of residents. It also deepened the frustration felt by many Syrians in opposition-held areas that such scenes of mass death that have become routine in the country’s 6-year-old civil war bring no recourse or even determination of responsibility.
They were lucky, the wind went in the other direction, Alyousef said.
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