Syria: Internet and mobile communication 'cut off'

Syrian activist uses a computer in Damascus Activists have used the internet, particularly social media, to publish footage of conflict

The internet has been cut off and mobile phones have been disrupted in Syria, monitoring firms have said.

Networking firm Renesys said the country's connection protocols were unreachable, "effectively removing the country from the internet".

Local reports suggested that the internet had been down since early afternoon, and that telephone lines were only working intermittently.

The Syrian government has blamed "terrorists" for the disconnection.

"The terrorists targeted the internet lines, resulting in some regions being cut off," Syria's minister of information told a pro-government television station.

According to activists, it has been known for similar communication cuts to occur in isolated areas before military operations.

Amnesty International has described the reports as "very disturbing".

Renesys, a US-based company which tracks internet connectivity worldwide, said on its blog: "In the global routing table, all 84 of Syria's IP address blocks have become unreachable."

According to its systems, access was disconnected at 12:26pm local time (10:26 GMT).

'Started to dive'

Another US firm, Akamai, also confirmed it was unable to connect with Syria's internet.

Activists were using satellite phones to make contact with the outside world, Reuters reported.

Search giant Google noted that Syrians were unable to access any of its services including YouTube. The video sharing website is a popular place for activists to upload footage from the country.

Psiphon, a Canadian company that produces advanced computer systems for circumventing censorship systems, told the BBC that its monitoring showed the number of people connecting from within Syria had "started to dive" from around midday local time.

Psiphon's system - which requires specialised software - has throughout November been seeing 13-15,000 log-ins per day.

Akamai web traffic Monitoring firm Akamai posted this graph showing level of net activity in Syria

However, at the time of the reported outage, none of its users were able to get online.

Syria has previously seen large outages in July and August this year, each lasting less than an hour and only affecting targeted areas.

During the uprising in Egypt, four major internet service providers were cut off in the country during mass protests against the then-President Hosni Mubarak.

Breaking connections

Egyptians quickly found ways around the blocks, and Google introduced a "speak-to-tweet" service which allowed people to connect to Twitter via the telephone.

In Libya, internet blackouts were common in areas that were at the time still controlled by Colonel Gaddafi.

The exact method being used to cut off the internet in Syria is unknown, one security expert said, but there are clues.

"It looks like they are using the same approach as Libya did," explained Rik Ferguson, vice president of security research at Trend Micro.

"Requests for Syrian addresses are simply timing out - so it's likely to be 'blackholing' or even breaking connections physically by cutting cables or switching things off."

Blackholing is a tactic which involves sending internet traffic into a dead end - rather than its intended destination.


More on This Story

Syria's war War in Syria

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    The power grab in Egypt will not work, in the long run these dictators will disappear as the human race will always strive towards freedom and the hope of a better future
    That is what started the uprising in Egypt, the fight goes on and will keep going on & on until we are all free of despots & able to live in freedom with self determination.
    Assad is a despot using his military against his people

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Where are BBC staff trained,North Korea? You remove my comment because you don't agree,yet you think you have the right to lecture others on censorship.Hypocrites,if you spent as much time rooting peodophiles out of your organisation as you do on censorship you might have some credibility

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    In the beginning, I thought It was fair to support FSA. After watching all that happened in Egypt & elsewhere, I think the West should be careful in choosing sides. The fight is between the secular syrian Govt. forces & radical (sunni) islamist forces. Isn't the reason why Iran & Saudi have aligned themselves accordingly? Another reason why religion is the root cause of all problems in the world!

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    What stops countries from winning a war?

    One word - MEDIA

    Without coverage you can send in the troops and wipe out everything and have no accountability by the end of it.

    With media attention you need to act proper.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    We are supporting the opposition because they are opposing a regime that we do not agree with, one that is steadfast in it's alignment with Iran & there you have it!
    We are supporting what we hope is a democratic uprising & an end to a dictatorship but we have no idea if it will work or if the uprising will lead to the same situation as in Egypt, the people there are still fighting for democracy..

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Do not think for one second that our very own government would do this, and for much less a reason.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    @24;the west has no military bases in syria but it does in Bahrain and Kuwait.@28; how many members of the population have the opposition terrorists killed? Assad is preferable to a far right fundamentalist islamic syrian state

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    No dictator ever gives the people more opportunity to communicate.

    Information, the freedom to express opinion and journalism are lethal to tyrants.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    They do have some support even if the heartless people who don't care.

    Anonymous @YourAnonNews
    RT @telecomix: #Syria internet outage.
    Our dialup lines work. Be careful,
    they are easily wiretrapped.

    I do hope those people left in Syria are safe and not being killed by chemical weapons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    3. Poddy100 - The term Activist is a neutral reporting term. Terrorist is negative were as Freedom fighter could be seen as positive.

    The classic quote "One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter" is in effect here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    I see the Syrian regime are taking the typical steps of the tyrannical and stamping out free speech.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    @Muishkin I'm gathering from your username that you support the Russian view on Syria: i.e. leave Assad alone to kill the population whilst he's buying the weapons from Russia?

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    We have only to look at what is happening in Egypt to see what the future holds for the Syrian people. These so called freedom fighters are nothing short of terrorists and we should stop supporting them. What was a country where there was freedom of worship and where women were free to will become another repressive Islamic state

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    @9 Cosmic Commander,
    I can only assume you are very young/naive. The end of civilization in Syria may come about through the indiscriminate barbarity on both sides, but the cutting of the internet is an inconvenience, fairly easily overcome as far as the maintenance of infastructure is concerned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    @Poddy100 They were originally deemed "activists" because all they did was demand change and hold large demonstrations - which the authorities fired on. No terrorism involved - except by the army.

    Later they fired back at people who were firing at them - not at civilians.

    Later still the Red Cross declared the conflict a "civil war". Assad still calls them terrorists, but no one else does.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    I am surprised this did not happen earlier. Our own government would only be too willing to do the same if they were in the same position.

    Why do western governments support these terrorists in Syria, but not the activists in Bahrain & Kuwait? Why does our government not support regime change in those repressive countries?

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    @17 linda; I don't think islamic terrorists are to interested in human rights,they leave that sort of stuff to their ideologicaly opposite supporters from the western left to worry about that sort of thing

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Heavy fighting near Damascus airport all the flights are cancelled...Something big is going on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    well get virgin media on the fone then .

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Typical behavior from a Mid East despot.

    It's part of a pattern - look at Mursi's power grab; Hamas' terrorism; the atrocities of both the Assad regime and its opponents: Iranian clerico-fascism; Turkish massacres of Kurds; Saudi repression of women - the list goes on and on. The downing of the internet is no big surprise, and in fact is the least of the worries in that part of the world.


Page 5 of 6


More Technology stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.