DAMASCUS, Syria, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- An attack on a natural gas pipeline Tuesday in western Syria caused a loss of electricity in parts of the country, state-media reports.
The official Syrian Arab News Agency reported Tuesday that "an armed terrorist group" launched an attack on a natural gas pipeline near the western city of al-Rastan in the restive province of Homs.
Unnamed sources in the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources said insurgents used an explosive charge to damage the 24-inch pipeline. Electric power stations in the region were out of service and the flow of natural gas was halted, the ministry source added.
SANA reports the attack caused a loss of about 4 megawatts per hour of electricity. The news agency adds the Tuesday attack was the fourth such incident since the uprising against the government began, which SANA said resulted in a loss of around 800 MW of electric power.
The United Nations estimates at least 5,000 people have been killed in Syria since anti-regime protests began in March. Damascus blames terrorists and foreign interventionists for much of the unrest.
SANA in December made similar claims about a gas pipeline near the city of Homs, a flashpoint for conflict between the regime and members of the opposition.
Energy companies operating in Syria last month declared force majeure, meaning they can't carry out contractual obligations because of circumstances beyond their control.