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 Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid