Middle East

Syria unrest: Oil pipeline attacked near Homs

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Media captionFootage of the pipeline fire

A major pipeline carrying oil to a refinery in Syria's restive Homs province has been attacked, activists and the state news agency Sana said.

It was not clear who was behind the attack, which caused no casualties but triggered a plume of black smoke.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the pipeline was "bombed", while Sana blamed "an armed terrorist group" for sabotaging it.

The agency said the attack happened at Tal al-Shor, west of the troubled city.

The Local Co-ordination Committees, which organise protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, accused his government of deliberately destroying the pipeline, which serves a region opposed to his rule.

The province has been besieged by security forces and loyalist militias for more than two months.

The United Nations estimates more than 4,000 people have been killed since mid-March in the regime's crackdown on dissent.

Damascus blames the unrest on "armed terrorist groups" and foreign meddling.

Seven civilians were killed during several security raids in Homs on Thursday, according to activists quoted by AFP news agency.

There have been two recent reported attacks on pipelines in Syria - one, according to activists, took place on 13 July in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

Another, also near Homs, was reported on 29 July by Sana.

Syria's oil output has slumped to 120,000 barrels per day from 340,000 before the unrest due to narrowing exports in line with sanctions against President Assad's regime, according to an industry expert quoted by AP.

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