BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:40 A.M.) – In what appears to be a deliberate attack on Syria’s oil industry,  five pipelines were badly damaged on Sunday afternoon, the Syrian Oil Ministry reported.

“We were informed yesterday about an oil leak off Baniyas. Specialist divers of the Syrian oil company investigated it and found traces of external damage on five pipelines”, it said on Facebook.

This is reportedly the first attack on underwater pipelines since the Syrian civil war began eight years ago.

The city of Baniyas is located in the Tartous Governorate; it is also home to one of Syria’s two oil refineries. The other situated in the city of Homs. Syria has been reportedly relying on oil shipments through tankers to its Mediterranean coast.

No group has claimed responsibility for this attack; however, Syria has been under crippling economic sanctions for several years now. Syria has found it very difficult to transport oil to their Mediterranean shores as a result of a U.S.-led blockade.

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