SYRIA HIT BY ‘COUNTRYWIDE ELECTRICITY BLACKOUT’

Syria experienced a countrywide blackout on Thursday for unknown reasons, Syrian state television reported.

“Electricity has been cut across all provinces and teams are trying to determine the reason for this unexpected cut,” state news agency SANA announced, citing an electricity ministry source.

The station added that crews were attempting to fix the problem and that Internet connection was also partially down as a result of the outage.

Blackouts have been common since the onset of the Syrian conflict five years ago and the government has held rebel attacks responsible for previous outages. However, a countrywide power cut is a rare occurrence.

The outage comes amid a ceasefire in Syria between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and opposition groups, except the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front. The truce is now in its sixth day and appears to be holding.

Both sides have accused the other of violations of the truce, which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday would be investigated.

Russia has said that it is only targeting U.N.-designated extremist organizations, while France has expressed its concern about reports of Russian strikes on moderate rebel areas.

Approximately 24 civilians have been killed in the conflict during the ceasefire, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, which monitors the conflict through a network of activists on the ground.

“Compare that number to Friday, the day before the truce came into effect: 63 civilians, including 11 children, died that day alone,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the group, said on Thursday.

Source