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Syria plunges into Internet darkness page 2


 Smoke and dust leap into the air after a warplane attacked a building in Homs, Syria, on Wednesday.
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Date published: 11/30/2012

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He said he was driving Wednesday through the Damascus suburb of Aqraba, near the airport, and saw dozens of rebel fighters for the first time in the area, riding in pickup trucks and motorcycles, and wielding AK-47s.

Their presence so close to the "green zone" may have led to the Internet being cut, said the resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared government reprisal. He said the military was positioned a few hundred meters away from the rebel fighters and had built large speed bumps to enclose the area.

The opposition said the Internet blackout was an ominous sign that the regime was preparing a major offensive.

"I fear that cutting the Internet may be a prelude to a massacre in Damascus," said Adib Shishakly, a Syrian opposition figure from Cairo, Egypt. "The regime feels it is being choked off by rebels who are closing in on the capital from its suburbs. It's a desperate move, they are trying to sever communications between activists."

Renesys, a U.S.-based network security firm that studies Internet disruption, said in a statement that Syria effectively disappeared from the Internet at 12:26 p.m. local time.

"In the global routing table, all 84 of Syria's IP address blocks have become unreachable, effectively removing the country from the Internet," Renesys said. It added that the main autonomous system responsible for Internet in the country is the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment, and that "all of their customer networks are currently unreachable."

Akamai Technologies Inc., another U.S.-based company that distributes content on the Internet, also confirmed the complete outage.

Jim Cowie, the chief technology officer at Renesys, said the abruptness of the outage suggested it wasn't due to a severed cable. Syria has several cables that connect it to the outside world, and all of them would have had to be cut at once for a complete outage. A power outage or an intentional shutdown at central Syrian telecommunications facilities is a more likely cause, he said.


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