Civilians recall chemical attack on Syrian town
08 Apr 2017 - 13:38
IDLIB, Syria: Emine Ahmet Bekkur, 35, is still unable to take away the scenes of children foaming at the mouth from her memory.
Bekkur is a resident of Khan Shaykhun town in northern Syria, which came under a suspected chemical attack on Tuesday, in which dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured.
"I can't forget the scenes of children foaming at the mouth," Bekkur told Anadolu Agency in exclusive statements.
Breathing difficulties and foaming at the mouth are symptoms commonly associated with toxic gas exposure.
"The hospital where the injured were rushed to were bombed immediately after the chemical attack," she recalled.
Bekkur was among hundreds of families who fled Khan Shaykhun to safer places in the wake of the attack.
She dismissed claims by the Syrian regime that the attack had targeted an opposition weapons depot in the town.
"There were only empty grain warehouses in the area," Bekkur said.
"We live in a constant fear," she said. "Even the sound of a motorcycle makes us run away thinking that it was a regime warplane."
-Fleeing to safety
Besme Hamidasha, 34, a local resident, said she took her children and fled the town following the chemical attack.
"I will never forget this horrific moment," she told Anadolu Agency.
"I will not go back home; this is impossible now," she said. "What we saw, experienced and heard is indescribable."
She insisted that the bombed site was a civilian area, not a weapons depot as claimed by the Syrian regime and Russia.
"The people living there were our friends," she said.
Abdulhamit Ahmed Maerati, a local resident, said there were no military installations in the bombed site.
"There was only a bakery in the area, not a weapons depot," he said.
The father of ten said two of his children were injured in the attack.
"The first thing that came to my mind is to leave the town to a refugee camp near border with Turkey," he said.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, more than a quarter-million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-battered country, according to the UN.
The Syrian Center for Policy Research, however, put the death toll from the six-year conflict at more than 470,000 people.