Syria incurs $2.7bn in losses from blackouts

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(AFP/Getty Images)

(AFP/Getty Images)

Power outages over the two-year uprising against the government of Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad have cost the state SYP218bn (US$2.7bn), said electricity minister Imad Khamis.

"The electricity sector topped a list of vital sectors which were targeted by terrorism," the state-run SANA news agency quoted Khamis as saying, in reference to rebels who have been fighting to topple Assad's regime.

"The value of the damage to the economy as a result of power blackouts caused by acts of sabotage are estimated to be about SYP218bn," SANA quoted Khamis as saying.

About 81 workers were killed in the electricity sector last year, while 157 were wounded and 29 have been kidnapped, Khamis said.

The construction of two power plant projects has been delayed due to lack of funding of about €420m from the European Investment Bank, SANA reported. 

More than 60,000 people have been killed since the start of a two-year rebellion while 600,000 have fled the country to neighbouring Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, according to the United Nations.

Assad's government has blamed the violence in the country on extremists and a foreign conspiracy.

The country's central bank said the new official rate of the Syrian pound to the dollar is about 81 to the dollar. That compares with a rate of about 48 pounds to the dollar before the uprising in 2011. The pound is trading above 90 to the greenback in the black market. 

The central bank had US$18bn in foreign currency reserves prior to the outbreak of violence in the southern part of the country.  

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