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.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 119.


    In Syria's case it is Tartus, the strategic Russian military naval base, the only one besides Sevestopol they happen to control in the region.

    As always, the American bourgeoisie elite is plotting to overthrow Russian friendly governments in a bid to spread the evils of their egoistic brand of "democracy" (i.e corporate takeover, Somalian/Iraqi style anarchy, etcetera) to remove Russia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    Anyone know if it's normal for there to be no planes flying over Syria at this time?

    Or is it down to time of day?

    What's normal for the air traffic usually?

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Here is a dark interpretation of what the communications cut off means: Assad is preparing to use chemical weapons. To use chemical weapons is so evil that the Assad regime will deny using them even as they use them. If no one can tell the world that chemical weapons are being used in real time, the regime has deniability.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    No funny cat videos for you, Mr Assad!

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Q. How do you know when a dictatorship is about to end?

    A. When they cut access to the net.

    Why? Because the net is an essential stabilising force in modern society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    There is absolutely no excuse for blowing up children. Do the people who build, design, sell and detonate these weapons realize what they are doing? I don't think so. I think they should be forced to watch what these weapons do. Anyone is a coward who cannot face the enemy face to face and if the coward was forced to face the enemy he or she would run away and do nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    110. Pancha Chandra

    " There is a catch somewhere!"

    Yes, it's called OIL, or in Syria's case NO OIL.... Hence, how quick the usual suspects leapt to defend civilians from attack in Libya, but sit on their hands over Syria.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    The most worrying thing is that all the combatants are now hidden by the lack of communications and the temptation to take easy options involving civilian deaths is increased. So overall disconnecting the internet is a very bad thing to have happened, as much a war crime as the indiscriminate killing of civilians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    "Israel should use armed drones to spy on Assad."

    I'm sure Israel is considering - and doing - this type of thing and more. Located next to so many political sleazeballs (Hamas; Mursi; Hezbollah; Assad etc) Israel has to keep a tabs on its rough neighbours to be ready to act anytime. No wonder the Iranians needed a change of underwear when Israel recently bloodied Hamas' nose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    A very sinister move by Assad as he takes the country down the slippery path of complete ruin without any emotion whatsoever. Such a despot has to be stopped in his tracks. Why is is the world community taking so long to dislodge him from power? Haven't the Syrian people suffered enough? China, Russia have sufficient clout but are not exercising any control on him. There is a catch somewhere!

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    Assad prepares more shipments of rockets and missiles to Arabs for attacks on Israelis. Israel should use armed drones to spy on Assad and seek potential targets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    Yes. Civilisation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    To some this is a civil war, to Assad his country is beseaged by foreign interests that want to get rid of him. Meanwhile the innocent people are being killed while lining up for bread by rockets fired from army helicopters
    Why would the army target people lined up to get bread?
    Assad is killing his own people in the hopes of getting a few so called terrorists.
    That is what a despot would do!

  • Comment number 106.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    good i hope they kill all the salafist/whabbi/jihadi foreign mercenary terrorists who only a few years ago were killing Brit soldiers in Iraq and are still killing Brit soldiers in Afghanistan and plan terrorist attacks in the UK why are we helping people who wish to ethnically cleanse all but sunni muslims and behead and kill prisoners on film,what does Hague get out of this a bigger head ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    To be honest Im sick of hearing about the problems of countries from this part of the world and wouldnt mind if I never heard anything about them again. Can anyone ever emeber a good new story coming out of thids hellhole on earth?

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    I agree with #77.Orenda
    Opening up other pages such as the Palestinian UN bid would be interesting. It sure is attracting comments on Canada's CBC : Nevertheless the Syrian issue, while simple in principle, is extremely complex because of all the different players, some outside opportunists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    To be honest Im sick of hearing about the problems of countries from this part of the world and wouldnt mind if I never heard anything about them again. Can anyone ever emeber a good new story coming out of thids hellhole on earth?

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    In the land of fairies where people persuade the young to fight through the fear of the king of the fairies not liking them when they are dead, all the young men fight.

    Has anyone ever asked for proof?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    I remember everybody was used to go to a coffe net and sign by the national ID so everything can be monitored...simply this incident is extremely normal from that MF.....


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