UPDATE 1-Turkey says Syrian power supply halted by network damage


(Adds comments from company)

KAYSERI, Turkey, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Turkey said on Thursdayit had stopped supplying Syria with electricity, but officialssaid the decision was due to problems with its neighbour'snetwork and not a political decision to cut it off.

Turkey, an outspoken critic of the Syrian government's19-month crackdown of a popular uprising, has said it will notcut power and water to its southern neighbour, which couldworsen a humanitarian crisis that has created more than 300,000refugees.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Syria had decided to stopbuying electricity from Turkey last week and that its neighbourcould resume purchasing power when it can.

Yasar Arslan, chief executive of Aksa Natural Gas, said hiscompany's current contract with Syria was still in effect andthat he expected power transmission to start again this monthafter the repair of the Syrian network was completed.

It was not immediately clear what problems had hit thenetwork. Media reports said the Syrian power grid has beenseverely damaged in the conflict between President Basharal-Assad's forces and rebels.

NATO member Turkey was once an ally of Assad but turnedagainst him after his violent response to an uprising in which,according to the United Nations, more than 30,000 people havedied.

Turkey has massed troops along its 900-km (560 mile)long-border in the past week after gunfire and shells fromnorthern Syria hit Turkish territory, prompting it to respond inkind.

"If Syria wants to start buying again, this door is open.There is no problem in Turkey's supply and production," Yildizsaid.

Turkey sold 1,170.6 gigawatt hours of electricity to Syriain 2011, according to the state transmission company, or about20 percent of the Syria's needs.

(Reporting by Evrim Ergin; Writing by Seltem Iyigun; Editing byPatrick Graham)

((nicholas.tattersall@thomsonreuters.com)(Reuters Messaging:nicholas.tattersall.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))