The anguished dad who was pictured cradling his dead 9-month-old twins buried his babies alongside his wife and nearly two dozen other relatives in a mass grave, he recalled in a heart-wrenching interview.
“Say goodbye, baby, say goodbye,” Abdel Hameed al-Youssef uttered tearfully to their lifeless bodies before taking them to the grave, where 22 of his relatives were also buried.
Youssef, 29, asked a cousin to record his heart-wrenching farewell to his boy and girl — Ahmed and Aya — as he sat inside a van headed for the burials Tuesday, Huffington Post Canada reported.
“I carried them outside the house with their mother,” the shop owner told the AP. “They were conscious at first, but 10 minutes later we could smell the odor.”
He rushed his sickened wife, Dalal Ahmed, and twins to paramedics and went to look for the rest of his family. He found the bodies of his two brothers, two nephews and a niece as well as neighbors and friends.
Overcome with grief, Youssef fainted and woke up in a hospital, where he discovered his wife and children had died, ITV News reported.
“I couldn’t save anyone. They’re all dead now,” he lamented.
At the graveyard, he was supported by two other men as he wept and pointed out the fresh burial sites of his relatives and friends.
“I saw my wife and kids in front of me — martyred. They were twins,” said Youssef, who railed against the “airstrike by the criminal air force,” Sky News reported.
“We buried them. I took Ahmed and Aya and buried them with my brothers. I buried my kids with my own hands. My wife and my brothers,” he said. “My Aya … my Aya! Take care of the kids, Dalal. I told them I would never ever leave them, my loves.”
Another family member, Aya Fadl, a 25-year-old English teacher, recalled fleeing from her house holding her 20-month-old son, thinking she could find safety from the toxic chemical.
“The air became very heavy. There was no bad smell, but the air was so heavy to breathe,” she said.
She was horrified when she came upon a truck piled with the bodies of the dead, including many of her own relatives and students, the Huffington Post reported.
“Ammar, Aya, Mohammed, Ahmad, I love you, my birds. Really they were like birds. Aunt Sana, Uncle Yasser, Abdul-Kareem, please hear me,” Fadl recalled saying to the bodies. “I saw them. They were dead. All are dead now.”
Youssef’s cousin, Alaa, 27, said his family was asleep when bombs struck early Tuesday and unleashed a cloud of toxic smoke.
The family frantically closed the windows and used crude measures to fight off the chemical, putting cloths dampened with water and apple vinegar to their faces.
He said Youssef, who was being treated for exposure, was in “very bad shape — but he’s especially broken down over his massive loss.”
Jesus take charge! This is too much.