Syrian regime militias steal wiring leading to power cuts

Syrian regime militias 'stealing wiring' leading to power cuts in Homs
3 min read
21 October, 2021
As power cuts trouble many parts of Homs, one Syrian told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, that the Syrian regime is refusing to tackle the problem.
Fixing the damage will cost billions, according to the local electricity company [Getty]

Syrians in central Homs province are suffering frequent power cuts due to alleged cable theft linked to pro-regime militias, which is being ignored by authorities, sources have said.

Electricity company officials have linked the matter with "unidentified thieves", according to The New Arab's Arabic sister service, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, which has caused massive power outages in central Syria despite a scheme enacted by the regime to fix the problem.

Under the country's electricity rationing system, energy coverage must be equal across Syria but residents in Homs say they are experiencing more frequent blackouts than in other parts of the country.

Complaints have been lodged with the regime's electricity board, according to locals.

Officials responding to the complaints say the outages are being caused by the theft of electrical wires and transformer parts - an inadequate response, locals say.

"It is easy for the regime authorities to control these thefts if they want to," a Syrian citizen told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

"The only means for disposing of copper wires is to smuggle them to one of the ports on the Syrian coast or Lebanon, whose crossings are controlled by the regime and its allies. This points to the thieves and officials being as one."

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Electricity grids in Homs and most other regime-controlled areas are plagued by theft, with valuable copper sold to local scrap metal dealers. The money made is a source of funding for militias tied to the Syrian regime, according to reports.

Lawsuits have been brought by the local electricity company against unidentified individuals for causing losses of 4 billion Syrian pounds ($1.14 million), according to one electricity company employee speaking with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Thieves steal wires containing valuable copper when the power is down and resell it - but no action is being taken, the employee said.

The electricity company said it needs the lawsuit payout to fix the problems caused and improve power supplies.

Another electricity establishment employee said: "The [electricity] company recently claimed that a group of workers in the scrap metal trade stole a billion Syrian pounds [$285,000], based on the testimonies of citizens."

"The judiciary confirmed that there is no clear evidence to hold them accountable, which indicates that these thieves enjoy the support, and are covered by, security or armed actors belonging to the regime."

Homs Electricity Company general manager Saleh Omran told local paper Al-Orouba he thought rationing would improve through a scheme offering two hours of power on and four hours off.

However, the damage to the grid caused by thefts has stopped the scheme in its tracks, local sources said.