BEIRUT — A nationwide power cut hit Syria Thursday, on the sixth day of a partial ceasefire, leaving the country without electricity for several hours, according to state-run media.
The Syrian Ministry of Electricity deployed teams across the country to determine the cause of the blackout, but early reports said it was likely the result of shelling at a power station. Before the electricity was cut, the ministry reported that Zara power station, north of the Syrian province of Homs, had been hit, following days of heavy shelling from the regime targeting the opposition-held town, which is close to the power plant.
Electricity had been restored in certain areas early Thursday evening local time. “Engineers and technicians are working on finding out why this sudden power cut happened in order to fix it promptly and restore electricity in the next few hours,” an official at the Ministry of Electricity told Syria’s state-run SANA News Agency.
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The internet connection was also affected in many areas of Syria. State-owned Syrian Telecommunication Establishment told SANA that this was a result of “sudden damage to one of the network hubs and repair teams have been sent to fix it.”
Sources told the BBC that the electricity had been off since 1 p.m. local time (6 a.m. EST). After more than five years of conflict, many areas of Syria only have an average of two to four hours a day of electricity. But a complete power cut is a rare occurrence, even during particularly brutal battles. In the past, the Syrian regime has blamed opposition shelling for heavy power cuts. However, the United Nations has also cited instances where the government purposely shut off electricity in opposition-held areas.
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Over the last two months, the Damascus suburbs and capital have suffered from increasing electricity outages and the rising cost of fuel needed for heating. Cuts ranged between daily 15-hour outages to having no power for up to 10 days during inclement weather.