DAMASCUS: A new sabotage attack has hit a gas pipeline in Syria, state media reported on Sunday, putting it out of service in the latest setback to the country's troubled energy sector. The official news agency SANA denounced what it called a "terrorist act", without identifying the suspected perpetrators.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, a bomb blast targeted the pipeline in the Badiya desert, where the Islamic State jihadist group is present.
The pipeline transports gas from the government-controlled Shaer field, the country's largest, in the central province of Homs to the Ebla plant, according to SANA. "The gas pipeline was put out of service by a terrorist act," the agency said, adding that "technical teams are working to repair it in the coming hours."
The Badiya desert is the scene of regular clashes between regime forces and IS, which maintains a strike capability despite losing all the territory it once held in Syria. The country's eight-year war has seen the regime lose control of key oil fields and caused state hydrocarbon revenues to plummet by billions of dollars.
The government of President Bashar al-Assad has been slapped with a raft of Western economic sanctions, including an oil embargo the United States and its partners sometimes enforce militarily. Last month, underwater pipelines connected to a refinery in western Syria were sabotaged. A senior official said at the time the attack was carried out with the help of a foreign state.