Large parts of Syria hit by power cuts after attack

DAMASCUS (AFP) - Large swathes of Syria were without electricity on Wednesday after a high-voltage power line in the centre of the war-torn country was sabotaged, the electricity minister said.

"A terrorist attack against a high-voltage line in the central region triggered a power cut in most of the Syrian governorates," Mr Imad Khamis said in comments carried on state television. In government terminology, "terrorist" refers to rebels battling against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Districts of Damascus, suburbs of the Syrian capital and areas further afield were without electricity from Wednesday morning, residents told AFP. Mr Khamis said power was expected to be gradually restored soon.

Power cuts have become a regular occurrence in Syria as the armed conflict that started in March 2011 as a rebellion against the Assad regime has intensified. Infrastructure, in general, is targeted.

On Tuesday, rebels sabotaged a gas pipeline in north-east Syria, state news agency SANA said, forcing the closure of a gas plant and affecting around 10 per cent of daily output.

Since the Syrian conflict broke out, more than 110,000 people have died, including over 40,100 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.