Syrian rebels blow up major pipeline

Dec. 31, 2012 at 10:59 PM
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MOSCOW, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Syrian rebels severed one of the civil war-wracked country's major natural gas pipelines, state media reported Monday.

The destruction of the pipeline north of the city of Dair Alzour Sunday wiped out production of an estimated 1.5 million cubic meters of natural gas that had fueled fertilizer factors and power generating plants, the Syrian Arab News Agency said.

The Los Angeles Times reported rebels had seized oil fields and attacked other strategic targets in an attempt to deprive the Syrian government of much-needed cash. SANA reported Syrian Prime Minister Wael Halqi told lawmakers Monday the attacks, coupled with "unfair economic sanctions" imposed by Western nations, had produced an energy crisis, the Times said.

U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi continued his efforts to find an end to the conflict, saying he hoped world leaders could accept a proposal put forth by Russia. Brahimi said Sunday he had discussed the plan with Russia and Syria, RIA Novosti reported.

"I think this proposal could be adopted by the international community," he said, without providing details.

A previous U.N. peace plan collapsed in April.

Brahimi could meet with Russia and the United States in January, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Sunday.

Brahimi said the situation in Syria was "getting worse by the day."

A total of 133 people, including 12 children and 11 women, died in fighting Monday across Syria, the Syrian Network for Human Rights reported. Fifty-six of the casualties, which were not independently confirmed, were in and around Damascus.

On Monday, Turkey dismissed as "disinformation" a report from Iranian Press TV that Syrian forces had captured four Turkish fighter pilots, Today's Zaman reported.

Turkey is a former ally of Syria, but asked NATO to deploy anti-missile batteries along its border with its southern neighbors in early December in protest of Syrian President's Bashar Assad's violent attacks against civilians.

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