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Electrical Power Outage Darkens Much of Syria

Smoke rises after what activists said was a fire near Damascus International Airport, Oct. 23, 2013.
Much of Syria, including the capital, Damascus, lost electrical power late Wednesday after an explosion near the international airport.

State news agency SANA quoted the government's electricity minister as blaming the outage on a "terrorist" attack on gas pipelines that feed electricity generating stations. He said repairs were under way.

Reuters news agency quoted a Damascus resident as saying the entire city went dark.

The Britain-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the explosion was caused by rebel artillery strikes aimed at the town of Ghasula, several kilometers from the airport.

Rebels seeking to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad have been trying for months to push into the capital.

More than 100,000 people have been killed since March 2011, when government forces moved to crush a pro-democracy uprising. Millions have been displaced in the civil war that has followed.