Unknown saboteurs on Friday blew up an oil pipeline near Homs, a hub of protest against the autocratic rule of President Bashar al-Assad in central Syria, the official SANA news agency reported.
“A subversive group targeted an oil pipeline near Homs at dawn with an improvised explosive device,” SANA said, adding the blast had left a crater 15 metres (50 feet) in diameter and oil gushing from the broken pipe.
Homs Governor Ghassan al-Adel said many residents reported that they heard the explosion at around 4:00 am (0100 GMT).
“This terrorist operation, a subversive operation of the highest order, took place in a farming area, causing extensive damage,” Adel said, quoted by SANA.
The attack was the second of its kind in Syria this month, and comes amid unprecedented protests against Assad’s regime that erupted in mid-March.
On July 13, an explosion hit a gas pipeline near the town of Mayadin in the country’s main oil- and gas-producing region of Deir Ezzor province in the northeast, rights activists said at the time.
Oil production in Syria stands at about 380,000 barrels per day, according to official data.
The latest pipeline blast comes just hours ahead of newly called protests on Friday against Assad’s regime.
The anti-regime demonstrations have been met by a fierce crackdown by security forces that one human rights group says has killed more than 1,600 people and seen 26,000 people arrested.