Turkey cuts off power supply to Syria; denies political motive

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Electricity transmission lines are seen at Turkey’s Akçakale border gate to Syria. A cross border deadly shelling escalated tension between Turkey and Syria. Yet, Turkey is not considering to cut off electricity to Syria, Turkish Energy Minister Yıldız says. Photo – AA

Turkish officials confirmed on Thursday electricity supply to Syria has been cut off, but denied it was a political decision taken by Ankara.

Prime Minister Recip Erdogan, an outspoken critic of the Syrian government’s 19-month crackdown of a popular uprising, has pledged not to 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 claimed last week Damascus has informed it will not buy electricity from Turkey. He added that Syria could resume purchasing power when it can.

Yasar Arslan, chief executive of Aksa Natural Gas, denied Syria has terminated his company’s contract and hoped power transmission to start again this month after extensive repairs have been made to the Syrian network.

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

Media reports coming from Syria said the power grid has been severely damaged during heavy fighting 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.

Turkish troops have been stationed on the 900-km long-border in the past week after gunfire and shells from northern Syria hit Turkish territory, prompting it to respond in kind.

According to the state transmission company, Turkey sold 1,170.6 gigawatt hours of electricity to Syria, or about 20% of the Syria’s needs in 2011.

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