Major Syrian oil pipeline is blown up

A major Syrian pipeline carrying oil to a refinery in the restive Homs province was blown up yesterday, as violence from the country's nine-month-old uprising escalated. The blast caused a fire that burned for at least four hours, according to a government official. No casualties were reported and it was not clear who was behind the attack.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the pipeline was "bombed", while the state-run news agency Sana blamed terrorists. "An armed terrorist group on Thursday committed an act of sabotage," Sana said.

Nomair Makhlouf, the general director of the Syrian Oil Company, said the pipeline serves Syria's domestic requirements and carries 140,000 barrels a day. There were two similar blasts on Syrian pipelines in July, with no injuries.

Syria is trying to crush a popular uprising, but the conflict is turning more violent as protesters increasingly take up arms. Meanwhile, sanctions from Turkey, the Arab League and the European Union are aimed at forcing the regime to halt the bloodshed.

Jordan has asked the Arab League to be exempted from imposing the sanctions over concerns of the toll they will take on the kingdom's already ailing economy, a senior government official said yesterday.

The EU has banned oil imports from Syria in a move that costs the embattled regime millions of dollars each day.