Internet, telephone service down across Syria
BY LOS ANGELES TIMES
Friday, November 30, 2012
11/30/12 at 5:14 AM
Syria was plunged into Internet darkness Thursday and much of the nation's telephone service was cut as fighting raged on the main road between Damascus and the capital's international airport.
It could not be immediately determined if the Internet blockage and the cutoff in telephone service were deliberate acts or the result of a power outage or damage to cables or other equipment. Fighting has engulfed several districts near the capital in recent weeks.
Both sides reported clashes along the airport road. It was unclear if government forces were responding to rebel attempts to cut off the important artery, which leads southeast from Damascus and cuts through several districts known to have a heavy presence of armed rebels.
The Austrian Defense Ministry said two Austrian soldiers from a United Nations peacekeeping force deployed in the Golan Heights area - a disputed zone claimed by Syria and Israel - were injured when their convoy came under fire along the airport road. Their injuries were described as not life-threatening.
Several airlines, including Emirates Airline and EgyptAir, reportedly canceled flights to Damascus because of the deteriorating security situation.
Word of battles along the airport road, combined with the Internet outage, triggered speculation that a new government offensive or other major move may be imminent.
Smaller Internet outages have occurred across Syria in the past, but Thursday marked the first time that the entire country has in effect been blocked from the Internet, according to opposition activists and global Internet monitors.
The Syrian government and the opposition each blamed the other for the blackout, which began shortly after noon.
The Syrian Information Ministry put the responsibility for the service cut on "terrorists" and "armed groups" - its usual characterization of rebels seeking to oust President Bashar Assad.
Syrian television quoted the minister of communications as saying that maintenance teams were fixing the damage, according to BBC Monitoring, which tracks local media coverage.
Original Print Headline: Internet, most telephone service down in Syria
Syrian citizens walk down a destroyed street in Homs province, Syria, on Thursday. Two U.S.-based Internet-monitoring companies say Syria has shut off the Internet nationwide. Homs City Union of The Syrian Revolution/AP