A grieving father was forced to say goodbye to his nine-month old twins, Aya and Ahmed, who both lost their lives in a gas attack in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun on Tuesday.
As he held their tiny bodies in each of his arms, he stroked their hair and whispered “say goodbye, baby, say goodbye” before placing them in a mass grave, where nineteen members of his family were being buried.
Abdulhamid al-Youssef, a shopkeeper in the north Syrian town, was at work when the gas attack hit near to his home. His wife called after the attack and Abdulhamid rushed home to look after his family.
The family seemed okay, but as a precaution they went down to the basement of a nearby building in case of another attack. It was in the basement an hour later when the family began to show symptoms.
“The family was all waiting down there and were safe, but then they started choking,” Mr Youssef’s cousin, Alaa, told The Telegraph.
“The twins suddenly began shaking and struggling to breathe. Then he watched the chemicals take hold of his wife, then his nieces and nephews, then his brother.”
“The whole family died down there in the basement, they didn’t have time to get to the hospital, he said. “All Abdulhadim kept saying to me after was ‘I couldn’t save any of them, brother, I couldn’t save them’.”
“The likelihood of exposure to a chemical attack is amplified by an apparent lack of external injuries reported in cases showing a rapid onset of similar symptoms, including acute respiratory distress as the main cause of death,” the World Health Organisation said.
More than 85 people, including at least 30 children, lost their lives in the attack on Tuesday. There was further loss of life after the U.S. responded by firing 59 Tomahawk missile into Syria which killed at least six people, the missile strike was caught on video.
The grieving father, who lost two dozen other family members in the attack, has backed Trump’s airstrikes and hopes more are coming.
The U.S. and their allies have blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the brutal attack, while Syria and it’s foremost backer Russia have denied any involvement. The Russians claim that a Syrian government air strike had landed on a rebel chemical weapon house, which is how the gas got released. However this unlikely assertion has been denied by the rebels.
Hasan Haj Ali, a senior rebel commander, called the Russian story a “lie” and claimed that the rebels did not have the capabilities to produce chemical weapons, and certainly not in the quantities required for an attack of this size.
Sadly, attacks such as this have plagued Syria since the start of the the civil war more than six-years ago.