Issued on: 24/08/2020 – 10:52

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) early on August 24 shows firefighters putting out a burning pipeline in the Damascus area. © AFP, SANA agency handout

Text by:FRANCE 24Follow

A suspected attack on a pipeline in Syria caused a nationwide blackout overnight, the state news agency quoted authorities as saying Monday.

According to SANA, the electricity minister said a pipeline explosion in the Damascus area late Sunday “led to an electricity blackout across Syria“.

The oil and mineral resources ministry said the explosion of the gas pipeline, between Adra and al-Dhamir, was “the result of a terrorist attack”, but provided no further details.

Speaking from Geneva, the United States’ Syria envoy said the explosion appeared to bear the hallmarks of an attack by the Islamic State (IS) group.

“We are still looking into that. But it was almost certainly a strike by ISIS,” Syria envoy James Jeffrey told reporters, referring to the IS group by another acronym.

SANA published pictures of a nighttime blaze it said was caused by the explosion, followed by images after dawn of a mangled land pipeline missing a large chunk.

Damascus residents told AFP they woke up on Monday with no electricity in their homes.

The electricity minister said some power stations had been reconnected and power provided to vital infrastructure, adding that by dawn electricity was gradually returning to several provinces. 

String of attacks

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitor, said it was not immediately clear what caused the blast, nor who might have been involved.

A host of pro-government forces are stationed in the area, the monitor said.

The Russia and Iran-backed Damascus government in 2018 expelled the last rebels and jihadists from Dmeir, a town about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of Damascus.

But the IS group retains a presence in the vast Badia desert east of the town.

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The incident was the latest in a string of alleged attacks against the government’s energy infrastructure.

In January, Syria’s government said divers had planted explosives on offshore pipelines in the Mediterranean Sea of the Banias refinery, but that the damage had not halted operations.

Syria’s war has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced more than half the pre-war population since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.

It has also caused the Damascus regime to lose control of key oil fields, and caused state hydrocarbon revenues to plummet by billions of dollars.

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