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Middle east

Syrian Internet switched off as army launches offensive

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-11-30

Syria's Internet and telecommunications networks were shut down and international flights were cancelled Thursday as President Bashar al-Assad’s regime launched a major offensive to retake control of the main road leading to Damascus airport.

Syria’s Internet was effectively cut off on Thursday, web monitoring organisations confirmed, before the regime of President Bashar al-Assad launched an offensive to retake control of the road to Damascus airport.

“From around 10 a.m. today all Syrian IP addresses went blank,” Nicolas Guillaume, of French Internet-monitoring company Cedexis told FRANCE 24. “We’ve seen traffic slowdowns in recent weeks, but this is the first time there has been a complete blackout in Syria.”

US Internet firm Renesys also confirmed the Syrian online outage.

"In the global routing table, all 84 of Syria's IP address blocks have become unreachable, effectively removing the country from the Internet," the company reported in a blog.

And according to Nicolas Guillaume, the outage demonstrates “the danger of having an Internet system as centralised as the one in Syria,” where the entire network is managed by the state-controlled Syrian Telecommunications Establishment.

Guillaume added: “A complete blackout is normally the result of human interference.”

Earlier on Thursday, activists in Syria told news agencies that mobile phone connections in the capital Damascus were also down, and that even landlines were barely functioning.

The Local Coordination Committees, a leading grassroots activist network, told AFP that "communications and Internet service have been cut in most parts of Damascus and its suburbs, raising fears that the criminal Syrian regime is up to something."

According to activists, sudden communication cuts regularly occur before major military offensives.

Fighting between rebels and troops is currently focused around Damascus, with the army trying to dislodge rebels who have set up rear bases on the outskirts of the capital and blocked access to the city’s airport.

On Thursday night, regime troops launched a major offensive along the airport road, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which earlier reported the route had been closed.

The Syrian regime on Thursday night blamed “terrorists” for the Internet outage.

Date created : 2012-11-29

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