A massive blast has ripped through a crowded commercial hub in the Northern Syrian city of Afrin along the Turkish border.
Turkish state media initially reported at least ten civilians killed after a bomb-laden fuel tanker truck exploded. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency called it a "terror attack" carried out by unknown assailants. Subsequent updated reports said there are at least 34 dead, with the death toll expected to rise as emergency responders battle the resulting blaze.
UPDATE: 34 dead & 30+ wounded in today's bombing in #Afrin.— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) April 28, 2020
Locals now suspect it was a truck/tanker loaded with explosives, which detonated near a fuel station.
Most of the dead appear to have burned to death. Horrendous. pic.twitter.com/wDTuAXtze0
Local reports say scores are among the wounded, with Syrian opposition media group the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) describing “The explosion was caused by the detonation an IED [improvised explosive device] on the road to Turandah, which caused material damage.”
Kurdish regional media cited a source in Afrin who said further "the blast caused a massive fire at the city’s main bazaar."
The attack may have targeted a fuel station in order to create maximum impact, according to early reports.
The scene is utterly horrific:
Unconfirmed reports suggest Syrian Kurdish militia fighters may have been behind the attack. At first glance it also bears the hallmarks of an ISIS attack, given the now 'underground' insurgent terror group has conducted similar 'fuel tanker attacks' in the past.
It follows Turkey's cross-border military operation last year dubbed 'Operation Olive Branch' in which Erdogan effectively annexed Kurdish enclaves on Syrian soil.
UPDATE - The #YPG-linked HRE guerrilla resistance has claimed responsibility for today's truck bombing in #Afrin, claiming its target was an #SNA HQ.— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) April 28, 2020
In fact, the attack hit a market -- 34+ civilians are dead, many of them women & children. pic.twitter.com/HWwt8ywTM6
Given international tickers and headlines, including Reuters, described that it was a massive "oil tanker" blast in Afrin - which it should be noted is a completely landlocked city currently occupied by Turkish armed forces - oil prices apparently spiked on the news.
And given the liquidity issues, June is dominating the price volatility intraday...
Given the coronavirus pandemic has in the past two months dominated headlines and the fight against the virus has become a singular occupation of governments across the globe, including in the region, the Middle East has remained relatively 'quiet' during that time.
Tuesday's massive and deadly blast has changed that - it appears world markets are still potentially sensitive to significant destabilizing events in the war-torn region.