News / Middle East

Syria Blames Oil Pipeline Explosion on Sabotage

Black smoke is seen from Homs refinery, Syria, December 8, 2011.
Black smoke is seen from Homs refinery, Syria, December 8, 2011.

A vital Syrian oil pipeline near the restive city of Homs has been blown up by what state media are calling an "an armed terrorist group."

The state-run SANA news agency called Thursday's explosion an act of sabotage.  The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also confirmed the report, but gave no cause for the blast.  A spokeswoman for the group says they are investigating the incident.

A video on the Internet from opposition activists and pictures from the SANA news agency show massive flames and an enormous cloud of black smoke billowing into the sky outside Homs.  SANA reported the fire burned for hours.  Two similar explosions on Syrian oil pipelines occurred in July, and it remains unclear who was behind them.

This has been one of the most violent weeks in Syria since the pro-democracy uprising began nine months ago, with the Observatory reporting at least 63 people killed since Sunday.

It says 14 people were killed on Thursday.  Nine of those died by sniper fire and random shooting in Homs and two by gunfire in the northwestern city of Idlib.  Three defected army officiers were also killed in the crossfire in a rural area outside the western city of Hama.

A Syrian Observatory spokeswoman Hivin Kako told VOA the escalating violence is the result of the Arab League's increasing pressure on the Syrian government to allow an observer mission into the country.  She said there was a mass execution in Homs on Monday.

"This is its reaction.  Especially the way they killed 34 people, choosing to abduct some Sunni people and kill them and throw their bodies in an Alawite area," said Kako. "That's just to push the country towards a civil war and try to oppress as much as possible," she said.

The nine-month-old uprisings that began with calls for President Bashar al-Assad to step-down have turned even bloodier as protesters take up arms.

The United Nations reports that at least 4,000 people have been killed since the unrest erupted in March.

In an interview with a U.S. journalist, aired on Wednesday, Mr. Assad denied that he ordered the killing of thousands of anti-government protesters.

Mr. Assad told ABC News he does not control the forces implementing his country's brutal crackdown.  The Syrian leader said there is "a big difference" between having "a policy to crack down and having mistakes committed by some officials."

Syrian activists are calling for a nationwide strike, beginning on Sunday, in an attempt to bring down the regime through civil disobedience.  The Local Coordination Committee, which is behind the country's peaceful protests, is urging citizens to hold sit-ins; to close shops, universities and public transportation; and to refuse to work in the public sector.

President Assad is also coming under increasing international pressure with sanctions imposed by Turkey, the European Union and the Arab League. The EU sanctions ban oil exports, significantly hurting the ailing economy.

The AFP reports that the Arab League will meet this weekend to make a decision on Syria's request for sanctions to be lifted in exchange for allowing observers into the country to monitor the deadly unrest. The head of the 22-member regional bloc was in Iraq Thursday, urging the government to intervene in Syria.

Mr. Assad's government said Monday it would conditionally accept an Arab League demand to let observers into the country to verify a pledge by President Assad to stop the deadly crackdown on opposition protesters.

The Arab League suspended Syria's membership and approved a series of sanctions last month in response to Syrian defiance of a previous ultimatum to accept observers, end the crackdown and start a dialogue with the opposition.  Syria had complained that a large observer mission would undermine its sovereignty.

The sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes on the Syrian leadership.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid