With the West united against the Syrian government and implementing a series of punishing sanctions, it's Iran and China to the rescue—as Chinese state-run firm Zhuhai Zhenrong bought an estimated $84 million in crude oil, and Iran supplied the boat to transport it, reports Reuters. The Malta-flagged vessel MT Tour was loaded up with 132,277 tons of light crude over the weekend at the Syrian port of Tartus.
"The Syrians planned to sell the oil directly to the Chinese but they could not find a vessel," said an oil industry insider who declined an offer to participate in the deal. A spokesman for Zhuhai Zhenrong denied the allegations. Meanwhile, the UN renewed demands that Syria cease attacking rebels and institute a cease-fire, reports MSNBC. "The deadline is now," said a spokesman for Kofi Annan. Annan is supposed to visit Iran soon to try to get additional support to pressure Syria. (Read more Kofi Annan stories.)