Multiple major missile strikes reportedly on a convoy of oil tanker trucks and a refinery in northern Syria lit up the night sky on Friday. Initially there was confusion as to who was behind the devastating attack which obliterated multiple dozens of oil tanker trucks.
Stunning video of massive fireballs near the towns of al-Bab and Jarablus, close to the Turkish border, circulated widely on social media with contradictory accounts of just who launched the attack. However, sources seem to be in agreement that the initial explosions were so large it had to be the result of ballistic missile strikes.
The fall of 3 unidentified missiles on the Al-Hamran crossing, southwest of #Jarablus, causing huge explosions and burning fuel vehicles at the targeted place.#syria #Aleppo pic.twitter.com/ScdchMyURL— Mohamad Rasheed محمد رشيد (@mohmad_rasheed) March 5, 2021
This led to accusations that either the Russian military or the Syrian government was behind it in retaliation to halt convoys of "stolen oil" taken from Syrian national territory.
Damascus and Russia have long condemned a Turkish "land grab" along the northern border, as well as US occupation of the country's oil and gas rich northeast Deir Ezzor and al-Hasakah regions.
"A source in the Turkish military, which controls swaths of northwest Syria where Turkish troops have a presence, said missile attacks had caused the blasts, which also wounded 11 people," Al Jazeera reports in the attack aftermath.
And The Associated Press described of the 'mystery strikes' the following on Sunday:
A suspected missile strike on an oil-loading facility used by Turkey-backed opposition forces in northern Syria sparked a massive blaze across a large area where oil tankers are normally parked, aerial and satellite images show.
Syrian opposition groups and at least one war monitor blamed Russia for the strike Friday night near the towns of Jarablus and al-Bab, near the border with Turkey. In a report, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in Britain, said Russian warships in the Mediterranean had fired three missiles that struck primitive oil refineries and tanker trucks in the region.
The missile strikes occurred late at night and the fires appeared to have been raging into the daylight hours.
Regional and anti-government news sources have been consistently pointing to Russian and Syrian government strikes...
The moments of death of the #WhiteHelmets volunteer Ahmed Al-Waki during his response to extinguish the fires caused by missile strikes by the regime forces and #Russia yesterday evening, on the rudimentary refining stations for fuel in Tarhine, eastern countryside of #Aleppo. pic.twitter.com/md3chxg9tC— Tania Chávez (@Tania_Tania_C) March 6, 2021
There's yet to be any confirmation or claim of responsibility either from Russia's Defense Ministry or from the Assad government.
There were multiple dead and wounded from the attack, as one Mideast news source documented:
The Britain-based monitor "documented the deaths of four people, while 24 others sustained various injuries and burns" in the attacks near the towns of Jarablus and Al-Bab. At least one Syrian rebel was among the dead, said Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman.
Rescue workers spent hours trying to extinguish the fire which spread to about 180 oil tankers, according to the war monitor.
"The fires are the largest yet from a missile attack on makeshift refineries,” the Observatory said.
An aerial video shows the destruction caused by the Russian missile strikes on the fuel market in Al-Hamran in the eastern countryside of Aleppo, which was considered the second largest market for looted oil from #Syria's oil fields occupied by the United States. pic.twitter.com/wSLD9VAYuM— Kevork Almassian (@KevorkAlmassian) March 6, 2021
And crucially the report observed that "Oil installations in Turkey-controlled parts of Aleppo have come under repeated attack in recent months although Moscow and the Syrian regime have not claimed responsibility."
Washington has also been conspicuously silent concerning the major attack. If indeed it turns out to have been a Russian or Syrian Army operation involving ballistic missiles, it will mark a hugely provocative 'signaling' to the White House that it must reverse course on its 'oil and gas occupation' in northeast Syria.