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Middle east

Attack on gas pipeline sparks Syria blackout

© Photo: AFP archives

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-10-23

An attack by rebel forces near Damascus has caused a power outage across Syria, state news agency SANA quoted the electricity minister as saying. The blackout followed an explosion near the capital’s international airport.

Syria was hit by a power cut late on Wednesday shortly after an explosion near the international airport outside Damascus.

"A terrorist attack on a gas pipeline that feeds a power station in the south has led to a power outage in the provinces, and work to repair it is in progress," Electricity Minister Emad Khamis was quoted as saying by state news agency SANA.

“The whole city just went dark,” a resident who lives in the centre of Damascus told Reuters. The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said that she could see the “major glow of a fire” near the airport and hear the sound of heavy machinegun fire.

An AFP journalist in Damascus also said he could see a huge fire blazing near the airport, which is located near the affected pipeline.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based group that reports on abuses and battlefield developments using sources from both sides of Syria’s civil war, confirmed the electricity minister’s claims that the explosion was caused by rebel artillery.

"It is likely this was a large-scale operation planned well in advance," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

The SOHR said the rebel shelling was aimed at the town of Ghasula, a few miles from the airport.

Power cuts were reported in several areas of the country, the SOHR said, including in the restive towns of Aleppo in the north and Homs in the centre.

Rebels have been trying to push into the capital, which remains a stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad.

In September, a similar outage was triggered when a high-voltage power line was sabotaged.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-10-23

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