Images showing the aftermath of a chemical attack in northwestern Syria put a spotlight on the devastation there, which claimed the lives of at least 70 civilians on Tuesday.
Abdel Hameed Alyousef, a 29-year-old shop owner and father to 9-month-old twins, lost his family in the attack of a town called Khan Sheikhoun, the Associated Press reported.
The newswire service on Wednesday published a striking photo of the distraught father as he sat inside of a vehicle cradling his toddlers’ lifeless bodies.
“Say goodbye, baby, say goodbye,” Alyousef said, according to the AP.
“I was right beside them and I carried them outside the house with their mother,” he continued. “They were conscious at first, but 10 minutes later we could smell the odor.”
After the twins and his wife fell ill, he brought them to the attention of paramedics and left to look for the rest of his family, thinking his wife and children would eventually recover, the AP reported. He eventually found the bodies of two of his brothers, two nephews, and a niece.
Later, he discovered both his children and wife had died.
“I couldn’t save anyone – they’re all dead now,” he said.
Alyousef himself may have also been exposed to the alleged chemicals. “Abdel Hameed is in very bad shape,” Alyousef’s cousin said. “But he’s especially broken down over his massive loss.”
At least 70 people have died from Tuesday’s air strikes that many allege were to have been conducted by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military, given that Syrian rebels do not have direct access to air assets.
Though the UN and other world leaders condemned the attack, less than 24 hours afterward more airstrikes were reported to have hit the same towns.
This was not the first time stirring images of Syrian children made waves across social media. In 2015, a picture of a drowned Syrian toddler captured worldwide attention amid a growing refugee crisis.