UPDATE 1-Explosion hits oil pipeline in Syrian city of Homs

Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:22pm GMT
 

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AMMAN Jan 31 (Reuters) - An explosion set on fire a crude oil pipeline feeding a Syrian oil refinery in the city of Homs on Tuesday, residents said.

A tall plume of smoke rose from the pipeline in farmland east of the refinery, one of two in the country, they said, adding that the pipeline carries oil to the refinery from al-Ramlan field in the eastern Deir al-Zor province.

"The smoke subsided after three hours. It seems the fire is being brought under control," said a resident of Homs, who declined to be named.

Hussein Nader, an activist in Bab Amro, a district near the refinery where the explosion occurred, said it was caused by tank bombardment.

"Tanks have been bombarding Bab Amro since the morning and their fire hit the pipeline," he said by satelite phone, with the sound of heavy machinegins echoing in the background.

There was no comment from Syrian authorities, which has placed tight restrictions on independent media, making verification of events on the ground difficult.

The authorities have blamed "terrorists" for previous pipeline explosions in Homs, a mixed city of Sunnis and Alawites, were main Sunni neighbourhoods have turned against President Bashar al-Assad.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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