Electricity cut in Syria after explosion hits gas pipeline

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — An explosion early yesterday struck a gas pipeline in a Damascus suburb, cutting electricity throughout Syria, state media reported, citing the country’s electricity and oil ministers.

Oil Minister Ali Ghanem said the explosion struck the line that feeds three power stations in southern Syria and that it could have been a “terrorist act” but did not elaborate.

Syria’s oil and gas infrastructure have been hit over the past years by acts of sabotage but no one has ever claimed responsibility for such attacks. The nine-year civil war that has killed more than 400,000 people has also badly affected Syria’s infrastructure and oil and gas fields, many of which are outside government control.

The state news agency SANA quoted Electricity Minister Zuhair Kharbotli as saying the explosion on the ‘Arab Gas Pipeline’ occurred after midnight on Sunday between the northeastern Damascus suburbs of Adra and Dumair.

He said it was the sixth time the pipeline was hit. Technicians are working to fix the problems and electricity should be restored in the coming hours, he said.

Last December, near-simultaneous attacks believed to have been carried out by drones hit three government-run oil and gas installations in central Syria. One of the attacks targetted the oil refinery in the central city of Homs.

In January, bombs planted underwater off Syria’s coast exploded, damaging oil facilities used to pump oil into one of the country’s two petroleum refineries.

Syria has suffered fuel shortages since last year. Western sanctions have blocked imports, while most Syrian oil fields are controlled by Kurdish-led fighters in the country’s east.

Flames rise from a gas pipeline hit by an explosion, between the northeastern Damascus suburbs of Adra and Dumair, in Syria. PHOTO: AP