Survivors of Idlib chemical attack recovering in Turkey

In the aftermath of the chemical attacks in Khan Sheykhun, survivors are being treated at hospitals in Turkey. Two of the survivors tell their stories to TRT World.

Photo by: Fatima Taskomur for TRT World
Photo by: Fatima Taskomur for TRT World

Victims of the chemical attack are now undergoing treatment in Turkey.

Many survivors of the deadly chemical attack in Syria's Idlib province are being treated at the Reyhanli state hospital in southern Turkey. 

At least 80 people were killed and almost 500 injured when warplanes dropped toxic gas on Khan Sheykhun. Many were still sleeping following a night of heavy bombings.

Autopsies conducted on victims of the attack point to possible exposure to deadly sarin gas, Turkish officials said on Thursday. 

TRT World spoke with two survivors at Reyhanli hospital. 

Rawan El Yousef, 14, student

"In the morning, the bus came to take us to school. We heard the sound of an explosion, but it wasn’t a chemical weapon. Then we heard a second explosion – that was the chemical bomb. When the driver suspected that it was a chemical bomb, he took us back home.

At home, we entered our bomb shelter – we have one in our house. We entered and we started coughing, we couldn’t breathe. Our eyes started to water. We wanted to know what was going on. We still didn’t think it was a chemical bomb, so we went outside to see what was happening. For about half an hour, we were like this.

At first, I wasn’t very affected by it – I was coughing occasionally. But when I went inside, my head started spinning. My vision went black. I couldn’t see anything, and I realised that I couldn’t breathe properly. I was with my family and my grandfather. My father came to take us to the hospital. The entire way there, our heads were spinning. We were all losing our vision. We were nauseated, and had difficulty breathing. By the time we reached the hospital, I was in no position to walk. They took us inside and gave us oxygen. My headache got worse, and it came to a point where I couldn’t stand the pain anymore. They took me to another hospital. There, they gave me a shot, and I can’t remember what happened next. When I woke up, they told me I was in Turkey.

El Yousef was on the way to school when the chemical bombs were dropped. She lost her uncle in the attack. (Izzet Nazli for TRT World)

We had never seen this type of attack in Khan Sheykhun before. For this reason, everyone was running to their bomb shelters like it was a regular attack. We understood that it was a chemical attack only later on.

We were ten people at home. My father is in Antakya, and my uncle died. My uncle died. He died, and they buried him."

Faisal Tallawi, 40, labourer

“I was at home when the attack happened. I heard the sound, and I opened the curtain to see what happened. I saw white smoke, and I thought it was an ordinary bomb that had been dropped near my brother’s house.

First, I saw my neighbours. There were seven of them. Two of them were alive, the rest were foaming at the mouth, and were lying face-down. The two that were alive were shivering on the floor.

When I took my first few breaths, I thought it was normal. Then I started to tremble, I felt cold. I felt dizzy, and I looked at the people who were on the floor, and they were trembling and having a difficult time breathing.

Tallawi was taken to the Reyhanli state hospital where he is now recovering. (Izzet Nazli for TRT World)

This was my first chemical attack, but I had witnessed other chemical attacks on television. After this attack, and I saw the people around me – it was just like the people I saw on television. They were shivering in the same way. That’s when I understood that it was a chemical attack.

On my way here, I was conscious, but my speech had slowed down, I couldn’t speak properly. First they washed us at the border, then they brought us in. Right now, I’m fine, but I have some difficulty breathing, and I’m a little dizzy.”

Author: Fatima Taskomur