As Syrian activists on Thursday launched a campaign of civil disobedience to pile pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, a pipeline carrying oil from the east of the country to a refinery in Homs was blown up, an activist group said.
“This is the main pipeline that feeds the Homs refinery,” said Rami Abdulrahman of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The group said flames could be seen at the site of the explosion.
Video footage on the Internet of the purported blast site showed black clouds of smoke rising above a built-up area.
The Homs refinery serves part of Syria’s domestic requirement for refined oil products.
In July the official news agency said saboteurs blew up an oil export pipeline near Homs which carried oil from Syria's eastern oilfields to the Mediterranean coast.
Meanwhile, Syrian activists on Thursday launched a campaign of civil disobedience against Bashar al-Assad after he drew a stinging rebuke from the U.S. for denying he ordered a deadly crackdown.
Local human rights groups said more than 100 people have been killed in Syria since the weekend, and the U.N. estimates at least 4,000 have died since March when anti-regime protests erupted.
But in a rare interview with Western media, President Assad questioned the U.N. toll and denied ordering the killing of protesters, saying only a “crazy person” would do so.
Washington said Assad’s remarks showed he was disconnected from reality or himself “crazy,” as he comes under mounting global pressure, with Arab nations and Turkey joining the West in pursuing sanctions against his regime.
Despite the rhetoric, the Local Coordination Committees activist network reported on Thursday that Assad’s forces used bombs and “heavy and indiscriminate gunfire” in Damascus and northwestern Idlib province.
The LCC, which organizes anti-regime protests on the ground in Syria, appealed for citizens to mobilize for a “dignity strike ... which will lead to the sudden death of this tyrant regime.”
The campaign would “snowball... and grow each day of the revolution to reach every home and anyone who wants to live delighted and dignified in his/her country,” said an LCC statement received in Nicosia.
It urged citizens to begin the action on Sunday − the first day of the working week in Syria − starting with sit-ins at work, and the closure of shops and universities, before the shutdown of transportation networks and a general public sector strike.
“The Syrian revolution is... a renaissance against slavery; a scream at the face of humiliation started from the first day as demonstrators cried ‘Syrians are not to be humiliated.’
“The echo of this scream will not vanish till it reaches all ears,” said the English-language statement, adding the strike was “the first step in an overall civil disobedience” campaign which will overthrow the regime.
Reports that there was no let-up in the crackdown also came from another activist group, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
It said that clashes between Syria’s regular army and mutinous soldiers shook the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province, near the border with Turkey, on Wednesday.
Also in Idlib, “military forces raided houses and arrested three militants,” in the vicinity of Saraqeb, while “some 50 armoured vehicles, including tanks and troop carriers, came under attack in the village of al-Rami,” it added.
The Observatory also said a 16-year-old girl was shot dead and 20 people were wounded near Saraqeb, and that two women died for lack of medication in the al-Hula region of central Homs province.
Death toll later on Thursday increased to seven people being killed in Homs.