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.
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid