'Saboteurs target oil pipeline in Syrian city of Homs'

State news agency reports attack on oil infrastructure in restive central city; clashes between regime forces, residents in Deir al-Zor.

Syria Protest Homs 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Syria Protest Homs 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Saboteurs "targeted" an oil pipeline near the central Syrian city of Homs on Friday, the official Syrian news agency said, without giving details of the nature of the attack.
Homs is home to one of Syria's two oil refineries and has seen large protests demanding the toppling of president Bashar Assad whose forces have deployed tanks in the city.
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Meanwhile, clashes broke out overnight between military intelligence agents and residents in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor after the killing of five protesters, witnesses said on Friday.
Syrian security forces shot dead five civilians in Deir al-Zor on Thursday, residents said, in a new effort to try to crush widening Sunni Muslim unrest against Assad.
"Mosques are calling for blood (donations) for 14 people badly wounded," one resident, a computer programmer who declined to be named, told Reuters by phone.
"Three tanks and four armored personnel carriers have been deployed in and around the main square. Thousands of people still went out in a night demonstration," he added.
On Sunday Assad, from Syria's minority Alawite sect, replaced the civilian governor of Deir al-Zor province with a secret police officer, two days after the biggest pro-democracy demonstrations in the province so far in the uprising.
Last week the army surrounded the town of Albu Kamal on the easternmost edge of Deir al-Zor, which borders Iraq, after 30 soldiers defected following the killing of four protesters, residents said.
Deir al-Zor produces most of Syria's oil output of 380,000 barrels per day but is among the poorest of the country's 13 provinces.
In Madaya near the capital Damascus, residents told Reuters two civilians were killed in a security sweep. Madaya has witnessed large protests demanding the toppling of Assad, despite the stationing of armored vehicles in the area.
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Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East