The photographs of the Damascus chemical massacre on Thursday – in which 136 to 1,300 people died, according to wildly differing estimates – shocked the world.
But for the Waked family from Nazareth the massacre was a devastating personal tragedy: 21 of their relatives killed in the attack.
"We heard of their death through family in Jordan,
yesterday," Ahmed Waked told Ynet.
"They were hit by the chemical material and they died. Twelve women and girls, nine men and boys."
Mourning in Nazareth (Photo: Anor Amara)
(Photo: Anor Amara)
He said that among those killed are a mother and her six children, as well as a couple and four of their children. He explained that the victims are Palestinians who escaped to Syria
in 1948 after the establishment of the State of Israel.
"They were killed in the village of Zamalka," Ahmed Waked said. "We used to meet them sometimes in Jordan, and they would tell us how difficult their life is and how afraid they are because of the Syrian civil war.
"The notice of their death was a horrible blow. It's time for that war to end, so that no more civilians are hurt."
Images from the massacre (Photo: Reuters)
Relatives and friends have started gathering in the Waked family home already on Thursday night. Amhed Waked said that he recently talked to one of his relatives who died in the attack: "He told me 'All our lives are in jeopardy, death is not far from any of us.'"
Meanwhile, a senior member of Syria's opposition coalition said on Friday that opponents of President Bashar Assad
had smuggled samples from victims of the attack out of Syria for testing by experts.
"We took them and sent them outside Syria," Syrian National Coalition Secretary General Badr Jamous told Reuters in Istanbul, but declined to say where the samples had been sent.
Syria's opposition also said on Friday it would ensure the safety of UN chemical weapons inspectors in areas of Syria it controls and said it was critical that they reached the site of an alleged gas attack near Damascus within 48 hours.
"We will ensure the safety of the UN team ... It is critical that those inspectors get there within 48 hours," Khaled Saleh, spokesman for the opposition Syrian National Coalition, told a news conference in Istanbul.
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