Syria says militant attack shuts down gas pipeline


DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Militants targeted a gas pipeline in government-controlled central Syria, putting it out of order Sunday, according to state media.

The SANA news agency didn't name the attackers. The area in the central Homs province is close to where remnants of the Islamic State group are still holed up after losing all the territory they once held in the country.

Separately and hours later, insurgents in the country's northwest fired missiles at the government-controlled city of Aleppo, killing seven civilians and injuring 25 others, the state-run al-Ikhbariya TV said. The reporter, speaking from Aleppo, said the missiles set fire to a number of residential buildings and vehicles parked in two neighborhoods in the city. One taxi driver died in his car when a missile hit it, the reporter said, adding that an earlier missile had hit an 18-story municipal building crowded with people. The missiles were lobbed from a rebel-controlled area northwest of the city, he said.

SANA said technical teams were working to fix the gas pipeline in Homs province, which links the Shaer fields to the Ebla processing plant. It did not elaborate on the extent of the damage or the nature of the attack.

The agency said the pipeline carries about 2.5 million cubic meters of gas to the processing plant and onward to power stations.

Islamic State militants briefly seized the Shaer fields in 2014 and 2016 before pro-government forces recaptured them in heavy fighting. Today much of Syria's oil fields and infrastructure are held by U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led forces in the east.

In recent weeks, IS militants have increased their attacks against government troops, putting up checkpoints and ambushing convoys. While the government now controls over 60 percent of Syria, there is still a rebel stronghold in the northwest, where the government is waging a limited but stalled offensive. Smaller armed groups in northern, central and eastern Syria have vowed to target government and Kurdish-controlled facilities.

The offensive in northwestern Syria began in late April and has displaced over 300,000 within the rebel-held area and killed hundreds, including medical staff. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and opposition media reported that on Sunday airstrikes hit the town of Maaret al-Numan in rebel-held Idlib knocking out the local water pumping station and water tank feeding the area.


Associated Press writer Sarah El Deeb in Beirut contributed to this report.