Middle East

Turkey says Syrian power supply halted by network damage

Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz speaks during an interview with Reuters in Ankara September 19, 2012. (REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

KAYSERI, Turkey: Turkey said Thursday it had stopped supplying Syria with electricity, but officials said the decision was due to problems with its neighbour's network and not a political decision to cut it off.

Turkey, an outspoken critic of the Syrian government's 19-month crackdown of a popular uprising, has said it will not cut power and water to its southern neighbour, which could worsen a humanitarian crisis that has created more than 300,000 refugees.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Syria had decided to stop buying electricity from Turkey last week and that its neighbour could resume purchasing power when it can.

Yasar Arslan, chief executive of Aksa Natural Gas, said his company's current contract with Syria was still in effect and that he expected power transmission to start again this month after the repair of the Syrian network was completed.

It was not immediately clear what problems had hit the network. Media reports said the Syrian power grid has been severely damaged in the conflict between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebels.

NATO member Turkey was once an ally of Assad but turned against him after his violent response to an uprising in which, according to the United Nations, more than 30,000 people have died.

Turkey has massed troops along its 900-km (560 mile) long-border in the past week after gunfire and shells from northern Syria hit Turkish territory, prompting it to respond in kind.

"If Syria wants to start buying again, this door is open. There is no problem in Turkey's supply and production," Yildiz said.

Turkey sold 1,170.6 gigawatt hours of electricity to Syria in 2011, according to the state transmission company, or about 20 percent of the Syria's needs.





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