The parents of conjoined twins said today their baby sons had won the "battle of their lives" after they were successfully separated.

Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf - dubbed the "little fighters" - are in intensive care in a stable condition following a 14-hour operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, according to surgeon Edward Kiely.

Their parents Angie and Azzedine Benhaffaf said: "The sun is shining today for our two little fighters, who have won the battle of their lives."

Mr and Mrs Benhaffaf, from east Cork in Ireland, added: "Words cannot express the relief and love we feel for our two boys.

"We thank God, we thank the surgeons and the gifted team at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and we thank from the bottom of our hearts the Irish nation and everyone who prayed for our beloved twins.

"We are so proud of the courage and strength that Hassan and Hussein have shown, and they both have made the world a much better place with them in it."

The twins were born in December at University College London Hospital.

Mr Kiely, consultant paediatric surgeon at the hospital, said: "I can confirm that the twins Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf have been separated in a 14 hour operation yesterday.

"The twins are in intensive care and are sedated but stable.

"We are pleased with how the operation went."

About 20 staff, including four anaesthetists and four surgeons, worked in shifts during the complex procedure.

The boys were joined at the chest but did not share any major organs.

In a poem written before the operation, Mrs Benhaffaf said she and her husband were told during the pregnancy the boys might share a heart.

But their cries turned to tears of joy when "my little fighters were born" on December 2, she wrote.

Her poem said the twins had "fought to be here" and the operation to separate them was their "final battle".

The Benhaffafs relocated their entire family - including daughters Malika, four, and Iman, two - for the operation and recovery period and expect to remain in London for up to four months.

A special fund was set up in Ireland to help the family cover medical costs.