The Syrian government has called the explosion on the main gas pipeline stretching across the Middle East on Monday the outcome of a terrorist attack, while the US suspected that Islamic State (IS) militants were responsible for the sabotage.
The blast on the Arab Gas Pipeline between the towns of Adra and Ad Dumayr led to a blackout across Syria. However, the power was being restored gradually, officials stated. Ali Ghanem, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, was quoted by the state news agency SANA as saying, "Assessments show that the explosion...was the result of a terrorist attack." He offered no further details.
US Suspects ISIS Involvement
In Geneva, the US envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, said there had been an upsurge in Islamic State activity in the southeast of the Syrian desert. Islamic State lost its last territory in Syria in March 2019 but pockets of fighters remain. "We are still looking into (the explosion). But it was almost certainly a strike by ISIS," Jeffrey told reporters at the start of UN-sponsored talks on the Syria conflict.
The Arab Gas Pipeline system extends from Egypt into Jordan and Syria. Syrian state-run Ikhbariya TV channel showed footage of a large fire after the explosion. The channel said later the blaze had been extinguished. A Damascus resident said power had returned to the city. In 2013, much of Syria was hit by a power cut after rebel shelling hit a gas pipeline.
Sixth Explosion Targeting Gas Pipeline
Electricity Minister Zuhair Kaharboutly said power was restored in some areas including Damascus and vital institutions like hospitals. The explosion is the sixth of his kind to target the same gas line. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the explosion, saying it caused no human casualties but big damage.
It said the electricity outage blanketed most Syrian provinces. The UK-based watchdog group said no party has claimed responsibility for the attack but the previous ones were carried out by the Islamic State terror group.
(With inputs from agencies)