Fire

A fire erupted in a major oil refinery in Syria due to a leak, the state news agency SANA reported on Sunday as the war-torn country grapples with a fuel crisis.

The blaze took place at a distillation unit as a result of a pump leak in the Homs oil refinery in central Syria, SANA said.

The agency, citing a refinery official, said the blaze was later extinguished.

Four firefighters suffered suffocation and were taken to hospital, the refinery head Sulaiman al-Mohammed told SANA.

The agency earlier Sunday carried images of smoke billowing from the facility as firefighters were trying to put out the blaze.

“The cooling process is now under way. There are no casualties,” chief of the Homs firefighting brigade, Hassan Amar, said.

The refinery has experienced several blazes in recent years. The facility had also come under shelling attacks from rebels, who once controlled parts of Homs.

Syria is suffering from an acute fuel shortage due to a US-backed Kurdish militia’s control of oil fields in the northern and eastern parts of the country.

Elsewhere in Syria, an explosion took place on Sunday on an oil tanker off the coastal city of Baniyas, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, reported.

SANA, citing a government official, reported that a technical failure of an engine had sparked a small fire and smoke.

The ship’s crew put out the fire that caused no major damage, Mohammed al-Sousi, an official at the state Syrian Company for Oil Transport, added.

Last month, a fire broke out on another oil tanker off Baniyas following a suspected drone attack.

Three Syrians died in that blaze, according to the observatory.

Syria has been roiled by a civil war for more than 10 years.

Russia and Iran back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey has been supporting opposition forces since a pro-democracy uprising erupted against his rule in March 2011.

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