[QODLink]
Middle East

Internet blackout continues in Syria

Phone and internet networks down across most of the country for a second day, amid reports of clashes near airport.
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2012 11:11
The length of internet blackout is unprecedented in Syria's 20-month-old uprising against Assad [Reuters]

Phone and internet networks were down across most of Syria for a second straight day, amid reports of fighting near the capital’s international airport.

The length of internet blackout, which continued on Friday, is unprecedented in Syria's 20-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Renesys, US-based company that monitor online connectivity confirmed that "all 84 of Syria's IP address blocks had become unreachable [on Thursday], effectively removing the country from the Internet".

Residents in some areas reported on Friday that they could access the internet but "with great difficulty".

"It is also very difficult to reach people by phone. But we have received reports that it is possible to communicate between certain regions via fixed telephone lines," Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported.

AFP news agency correspondents noted that internet and telephone communications, including mobile phones, were cut in the capital.

The official news agency SANA had still not resumed transmission on Friday after its feed was cut on Thursday at midday. Its website was also inaccessible.

Very disturbing

Syrian state TV denied the blackout was nationwide. It said the outage was caused by a technical failure, only affected some provinces, and that technicians were trying to fix the problem.

Syria's minister of information said "terrorists", not the state, were responsible for the outage, a pro-government TV station reported. Internet companies said that this was unlikely.

The US on Thursday accused the Syrian regime of cutting off internet and telecommunications links in the war-torn country, branding the move a sign of desperation.

Amnesty International said on Twitter that reports of an internet shutdown were "very disturbing".

The government has previously cut phone lines and internet access in areas where regime forces are about to conduct major military operations.

Suspension of flights

Meanwhile, fierce fighting was reported on the 27-kilometre road linking Damascus to the airport.

"After strong clashes, rebels were able to take control of a part of the airport road between the second and fourth bridge," activists said.

State television had on Thursday night quoted the information ministry as saying that the Damascus airport road, closed for much of the day due to the fighting, had been "secured" after military intervention.

Spotlight
In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria

Both EgyptAir and Emirates had on Thursday announced suspension of flights due to the fighting.

A Syrian security source said: "[On Thursday], we sent a telegram to the foreign companies still working in Syria and SyrianAir [the national carrier] to inform them of the status of the road to the airport so they would cancel their flights to Damascus."

"Today after the road was secured, we sent a new telegram to inform them that security was restored," she told AFP.

A military source in Damascus said that the army had taken control of the western side of the road leading to the airport and a small portion on the east by dawn, allowing travellers to move through.

"But the most difficult part is yet to come. The army wants to take control of the eastern side, where there are thousands of terrorists and this will take several days," he said, using the term regime officials use to describe rebel fighters. 

569

Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps have been released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.