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Syria chemical attack victims gassed as they slept, survivors tell media

They also described that the gas bombs were dropped from planes, directly contradicting the government’s version of events.

world Updated: May 07, 2017 08:47 IST
Turkish experts carry a victim of alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syrian city of Idlib, at a local hospital in Reyhanli.
Turkish experts carry a victim of alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syrian city of Idlib, at a local hospital in Reyhanli.(AP Photo)

Survivors of a deadly “chemical attack” earlier in the week in Syria that killed over 80 people, say they were gassed as they slept, a media report said.

They also described that the gas bombs were dropped from planes, directly contradicting the government’s version of events.

Abdul Hamid Youssef told the CNN that the attack shook him from a deep sleep. He awoke, finding it difficult to breathe. Leaping from bed, Youssef scrambled to make sure his nine-month-old twins were still alive.

Apparently unharmed, he passed them to his wife and told her to stay in the house. Rushing outside to check on his parents next door, Youssef passed people staggering and falling in the street, the news report said.

Youssef and many members of his extended family live on the northern edge of Khan Sheikhoun, a town in Idlib province, where the attack took place.

On Tuesday, airstrikes battered an area near their local bakery, meters from Youssef’s home.

But it wasn’t just any attack -- Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has been accused of using chemical weapons in the strikes. It was meant to rattle the rebel-held area. Instead it killed many and injured more than 200.

Youssef arrived in his parents’ house to find his two brothers dead. Panicked, he rushed back to his home to check on his wife and babies.

“There was foam coming out of their mouths, there were convulsions. They had all been on the floor,” Youssef told CNN on Wednesday, sobbing.

Syrians bury the bodies of victims in Khan Sheikhun, a nearby rebel-held town in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province. (AFP Photo)

“My kids, Ahmad and Aya, and my wife... they were all martyred. My entire family’s gone.”

Global condemnation intensified on Wednesday, the day after the attack, one of the deadliest since the Syrian war began six years ago.

The White House and the UK blamed Syrian president Assad’s regime for the attack that struck at dawn in Khan Sheikhoun when many were still asleep, CNN report said.

At the UN, Western powers lambasted Russia for standing by the regime.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said victims bore the signs of exposure to nerve agents, and Amnesty International said evidence pointed to an “air-launched chemical attack.”

International agencies are investigating the origin of the agents used in the strike, CNN said.

“We are still receiving information. Full details are still not known,” under secretary-general in the UN and high representative for disarmament affairs Kim Won-soo said at the opening of a security council emergency meeting to discuss the incident.