A large explosion at a gas pipeline near Damascus caused a near-total electricity blackout in Syria after a likely “terrorist attack,” according to local officials.
Rabat – Syria’s oil minister Ali Ghanem claimed on Monday it was likely a “terrorist attack” that caused a large gas pipeline explosion, knocking out electricity in much of the country. The explosion occurred on Sunday, August 23, near Damascus. The Syrian press agency, SANA, released footage of a fire blazing along the 1,200-kilometer Arab Gas Pipeline.
The explosion happened on a section of the pipeline between Adra and Al-Dumayr, near the capital Damascus. No information on deaths or injuries is yet available. However, the pipeline supplies three power stations that supply much of Syria’s electricity, and the blast left most of the country without access.
US sources were more outspoken about the event, saying it was “almost certainly” a strike by ISIS. The militant group, which a broad international coalition and local militias largely defeated after it made rapid territorial gains in Syria and Iraq, is the prime suspect, according to US Syria envoy James Jeffrey.
If the pipeline explosion was indeed caused by an attack, it would become one in a long line of assaults on Syria’s energy industry. Militants have repeatedly shelled pipelines, attacked oil and gas facilities with drones, and damaged refineries with underwater bombs.
Syria’s brutal civil war and the repeated attacks on its energy infrastructure have led to severe power outages and fuel shortages in the country.
The explosion comes amid fuel shortages that started in 2019. Western sanctions have blocked the ability of the Syrian regime to import oil products. Meanwhile, Syrian oil fields remain under the control of US-backed Kurdish fighters near the border with Iraq.
The Syrian regime has attempted to bring together the country’s tribal leaders to initiate a new push to reconquer Syria’s primary source of oil, but US aerial support and entrenched Kurdish forces have so far been able to block any significant advances.
Fighting in Syria’s oil-rich region has repeatedly led to the deaths of tribal members, resulting in a declaration of support from 55 tribes for a new offensive by the Syrian regime.
The pipeline explosion occurred in advance of resumed dialogue between the Syrian government, Syria’s opposition, and civil society in Geneva this week.