Fighting continues in Syria's Rastan, Homs

Assad troops kill 10, wound 15 in Rastan bombardment; crude oil pipeline feeding refinery explodes in Homs.

January 31, 2012 17:56
2 minute read.
Smoke rising from Damascus suburb [illustrative]

Smoke rising from suburb in Damascus 390. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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AMMAN - Syrian forces killed 10 people, mainly activists and their relatives, and wounded 15 when army bombardment brought down a building in the town of Rastan in the rebel province of Homs, activists in the town said Tuesday

"There was fighting and T-72 tanks began hitting the area on Monday night. At 9.30 pm (1930 GMT) either a rocket or a tank shell hit the Mansour family house... and destroyed it," Abu Jaafar, one of the activists, said by satellite phone.

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"They were mostly activists and their cousins. Fifteen women and children who were in another side of the building were wounded," he said, adding that the single story building was among farmland on the edge of Rastan.

There was no independent confirmation of the attack. Syrian authorities, who say they are fighting "terrorists" in Homs province and across the country, have placed tight restrictions on independent media since the uprising against 42 years of Assad family rule erupted in March.

Rastan, a town of 25,000 people on the main Damascus-Aleppo highway, has seen renewed fighting in the last two days between Assad's forces and rebels who have resumed guerrilla operations in the area since retreating after a 10-day battle in September.

Heavy fighting has also been reported in Khan Sheikhoun, another town on the highway. Activists said the rebels have blocked the road with trailer trucks since Monday.

Oil pipeline explodes in Homs

Also Tuesday, 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 satellite phone, with the sound of heavy machine guns echoing in the background.

Authorities have blamed "terrorists" for previous pipeline explosions in Homs, a mixed city of Sunnis and Alawites, were main Sunni neighborhoods have turned against President Bashar Assad.

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