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Syria; from light to darkness

by Rohit Kumar

Syria, a country in Western Asia is affected by civil war for the last 6 years. The war is between the government of President Bashar al-Assad, along with its allies, and various forces opposing the government which affects millions of people. Syria was formaly one of the eastern Mediterranean's major power supplier. The country had 15 power stations, including three major hydroelectric dams, but now their people are surviving with little to no electricity. The war has destroyed $5 billion worth of electricity infrastructure. Satellite imageries from NASA and DigitalGlobe are used to demonstrate how the different cities of Syria, i.e. Aleppo, Damascus, and Raqqah have dipped in Darkness.

                                          Fig. 1: Location of the different cities of Syria. © Google Earth.

Satellite imageries of the different interval show an average of the light emitted at night every year from 2012 to 2017. The outcome indicates that the electricity at night has disappeared or is less.


Aleppo is the home of two million people and a powerhouse of Syria. This place became a battleground and turned into ruins. Russian airstrike's against Syrian rebels began in October 2015 and images of 2016-2017 show that the city is in completely darkness. Power plants near the urban center too were damaged.

                                                                         Fig. 2: Aleppo at different intervals. © NASA


Damascus, the capital and the largest city of Syria is government controlled, but the city also faced an electricity problem as Aleppo did, and only a few areas have electricity throughout the year.  The city has been hit by a chemical attack in 2013 and since then people have survived without electricity. For everyone, surviving at night without electricity is a nighmare, particularly for women and kids.

                                                                  Fig 3: Tabqa Dam. © DigitalGlobe

                                                                 Fig. 4: Damascus at different interval. © NASA


IS took control of Raqqa in late 2013. The time-lapse shows the city in almost complete darkness for three months after US-led coalition airstrikes against IS began at the end of September 2014. Syria’s largest Dam known as Tabqa located around 40 km west of Raqqah, was damaged (administrative buildings and road) by IS but later recaptured by Syrian Democratic Forces.

                                                             Fig. 5: Raqqah at different interval. © NASA


The country is facing civil war for almost 6 years and one of the most catastrophic impacts has been on the country’s electricity network. Imageries of the three cities, i.e. Aleppo, Damascus and Raqqah of Syria are used to show how the lights have gone out during that time. The Syrian government says that damage to the country’s seven major gas fields during the conflict has made them buy and dispense fuel at higher costs, leading to shortages and rationing.

SATPALDA is a privately owned company and a leading provider of satellite imagery and GeoSpatial services to the user community. Established in 2002, SATPALDA has successfully completed wide range of photogrammetric and Remote Sensing Projects.

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