UK & World News
Syria Gas Attack: 'My Eyes Were On Fire'
Survivors have described the horrific aftermath of the "gas attack" in Syria in a series of chilling interviews from Damascus.
Victims told how a gas with "a faint green colour" stung their eyes "like needles", causing their legs to buckle and making their bodies convulse in pain.
One told how he regained consciousness after succumbing to the gas, seeing wild hallucinations "like Alice in Wonderland" with his "eyes on fire".
Others described how they saw hundreds of suffocating, twitching victims in the streets and in hospitals following a barrage of "whistling" rockets.
In several interviews, released by the Associated Press news agency, witnesses told how the rockets made a "strange noise", never heard before.
The rocket assaults came around the same time on two suburbs on opposite sides of the capital: Moadamiyeh to the west and several districts to the east.
Ammar, a resident who said he miraculously survived the barrage on Moadamiyeh, where 80 people were killed, said he was awakened by shelling around 5am.
He said he heard a screeching sound, followed by the sound of people screaming on Rawda street below his apartment - and saw the green gas.
"I ran out to see what was going on and saw people in various stages of suffocation and convulsions. I tried to help, but then my legs buckled and I fell to the ground," he said.
Ammar woke up at a makeshift hospital, where he said he spent five days getting oxygen and injections of atropine, which counteracts the effects of nerve gases.
A week later, Ammar said he has not fully recovered. He suffers bouts of cold sweats, exhaustion, hallucinations and a runny nose.
Worst of all, he said, were the nightmares.
"I can't sleep anymore. I keep seeing the people who died, the scenes from the hospital of people twitching and foaming. I can never forget that," said Ammar, 30.
His father, who identified himself by his nickname, Abu Ammar, was at the nearby al-Rawda mosque waiting for dawn prayers when the first rockets hit.
He said some people ran outside and then came back in immediately, shouting: "Chemicals! Chemicals!"
He put water on a tissue and covered his mouth and nose, and then went out.
"I saw at least seven people lying on their backs, completely still," he said.
Qusai Zakarya said the rockets crashed with a strange whistle "like a siren".
Friends took him to the hospital, where he saw dozens of people crowding the rooms and corridors, many of them in their underwear.
Nurses and doctors doused them with water. That was when he fainted. When he came to, doctors were injecting him with atropine and he started vomiting.
"Strange colours came out of my stomach," the man said. He fainted again and later woke up in the street outside in his underwear, apparently moved out to make room for others.
Later, he felt well enough to go home and said he slept for 13 hours.
"When I woke up I felt like Alice in Wonderland," he said.
"Everything looked distorted and I couldn't remember anything.
"My eyes felt as if they were on fire, and every time I tried to smell something I felt terrible pain. My chest also ached," he said, his speech interrupted by a hacking cough.
To the east of Damascus, some 600 patients poured into a makeshift hospital in the district of Arbeen. Of those, 125 died, including 35 children.
Abu Akram said he was told by several medics that some people were found in their homes, with wet towels on their faces or hiding with their children in bathrooms.
"People didn't die in their sleep; they tried to save themselves," he said.