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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs