A Syrian man who was pictured cradling the bodies of his nine-month-old twins has said he lost 25 members of his family in a suspected chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib on Tuesday (4 April).
Images of grief-stricken Abdul Hamid Youssef holding his babies have come to define the horror which killed at least 73 people. Bashar al-Assad's regime has been accused of carrying out the deadly strike in the rebel-held area as many people slept but his government has denied using chemical weapons.
According to CNN, Youssef woke up as the attack took place and rushed to check on his children. He told his wife to stay with them as he went to check on his parents only to see people struggling on the street.
As he entered his parents' house, Youssef found his two brothers. They were both dead.
In a frenzy, he rushed back home only to find his children, Aya and Ahmed, had also been affected by the chemical attack.
"There was foam on their mouths, there were convulsions. They had all been on the floor," he told CNN.
"My kids, Ahmad and Aya, and my wife... they were all martyred," he added. "My entire family's gone."
Youssef collapsed and awoke some time later in a hospital bed – only to learn the extent of his loss. "My brothers, their children, and their cousins," Youssef recalled. "Around 25 members of my family, all martyred."
A Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) team providing support to the Bab Al Hawa hospital "confirmed that patients' symptoms are consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent such as sarin gas."
As people came together to bury their loved ones on Wednesday (5 April), Youssef was pictured clutching his children – an image which went viral. He was later filmed grieving for his children at their graves.
As he cried for his children, he said that being with God is better than being in Syria.
Speaking to the Associated Press (AP), Youssef's cousin's wife, Aya Fadel recalled the scenes in the immediate aftermath of the deadly attack.
"All windows and doors were opened. We ran and ran, we couldn't do anything at that time," she said.
"My husband, where are you? My son, where are you my lovely son?' They were next to me but I couldn't see them. We couldn't do anything."
She added: "A big lorry stopped us and told us that they had many dead people.
"We immediately left the car and ran towards the lorry. We saw our relatives. All were my relatives, my friends, my neighbours. I can't believe it."
The attack has drawn international outrage and US President Donald Trump called it an "affront to humanity" and confirmed his "attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much".
Trump's ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, warned the US could take unilateral action if the Security Council fails to act. "When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action," she said on Wednesday.