A power outage plunged Damascus and southern Syria into darkness today, Syria's state news agency said, while anti-regime activists reported a string of tit-for-tat, sectarian kidnappings in the country's north. The news agency, SANA, quoted Electricity Minister Imad Khamis as saying that the failure of a high voltage line had left the country's south without power. The blackout affected Syria's capital, Damascus, and the southern provinces of Daraa and Sweida, which abut the Jordanian border.
An Associated Press reporter in Damascus reported dark streets across the capital. A fuel shortage makes it hard for residents to run backup generators. A similar blackout struck Damascus and southern Syria on Jan. 20, leaving many residents with no way to heat their homes on a cold winter night. The kidnappings point to the dark sectarian overtones of Syria's civil war, which pits a predominantly Sunni Muslim rebellion against a regime dominated by President Bashar Assad's minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Click for more on that. Meanwhile, the AP reports that Israeli soldiers provided medical treatment to wounded Syrians who approached the countries' border and then transported them to a hospital in Israel for further treatment, Israel's military said. (Read more Syria stories.)