Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
04:05 AM Beirut time
18 °C
Blom Index
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Syria hit by nationwide telecoms blackout
Syrian citizens walk in a destroyed street that was attacked on Wednesday by Syrian forces warplanes, at Abu al-Hol street in Homs province, Syria, Thursday Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Homs City Union of The Syrian Revolution)
Syrian citizens walk in a destroyed street that was attacked on Wednesday by Syrian forces warplanes, at Abu al-Hol street in Homs province, Syria, Thursday Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Homs City Union of The Syrian Revolution)
A+ A-

BEIRUT: Internet and telecommunications to most of Syria were cut Thursday, throwing the country into an almost complete media blackout.

News that did trickle out of the country served to heighten fears of an intensive government crackdown against opposition rebels, with details emerging of concentrated government airstrikes on the outskirts of Damascus and Aleppo.

Fierce fighting between Syrian rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad along the airport road in the capital restricted access to the international airport, before army forces secured the highway, according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Emirates airlines suspended daily service to Damascus “until further notice.” EgyptAir also said it has suspended all flights to Damascus because of “the deterioration of the security situation” there.

A spokesman for the rebels’ Military Council in Damascus, Musaab Abu Qitada, said an artillery round was fired at a military site inside the airport and that fighting was less than a kilometer away from the complex.

Two Austrian soldiers in a U.N. peacekeeping force deployed to monitor the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights were wounded when their convoy came under fire near the Damascus airport, Austria’s Defense Ministry said. Syria state television said the soldiers were wounded by gunfire from rebels.

A blog post on Renesys, a U.S. company which tracks Internet traffic worldwide, said that at 12:26 p.m. (10:26 GMT), the entire country’s Internet connectivity shut down completely.

Some residents contacted by international news agencies said mobile and land telephone lines were functioning intermittently. Rebels and the government traded blame for the blackout – the worst communications outage in 20 months of conflict, reminiscent of similar outages in the early stages of popular uprisings in Libya and Egypt in 2011.

The government has been accused of cutting communications in previous assaults on rebel-held areas in Syria. Syria’s minister of information said “terrorists” were responsible for the Internet shutdown.

A Syrian security source told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the army had started a “cleansing operation” in the capital to confront rebel advances.

The source, who is from Assad’s elite 4th Armored Division, said one of the aims of the operation was to seal off the suburbs – where rebels are dominant – from the city center.

Activists said the areas were taking one of the heaviest poundings they had seen in months. Syrian warplanes Thursday bombed Kfar Souseh, Douma and Daraya, neighborhoods that fringe the center of the city.

Elsewhere, activist video from a government airstrike showed residents attempting to retrieve the dead and injured from rubble, following an airstrike reported in Ansari, Aleppo. Another showed the bodies of four children, wrapped in red blankets and apparently wearing pajamas.

Rebels decry their supporters for not providing them with surface-to-air missiles that they say they need to counter the air force. The U.S. is pressuring divergent groups opposition elements to unify under newly formed umbrella coalition, in what rebels hope will pave the way for greater U.S. support.

Spain became the latest U.S.-allied country to recognize the coalition – formed in Doha last month – as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people Thursday, and sources in Washington indicated they may soon follow suit.

Announcement of the recognition is planned on or around a conference of more than 70 nations in Morocco Dec. 12. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is planning to attend the upcoming Friends of Syria gathering.

Sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter. But speaking at a conference on Syria in Washington, U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford suggested that the administration was getting closer to upgrading its recognition of Syria’s opposition council.

“They are a legitimate representative of the Syrian people’s aspirations,” Ford said. “And we will work with them. We will cooperate with them. They have a vision of Syria. It’s a vision that we strongly support of a country that would be democratic, that would respect human rights, and that would be a force for stability in the region.” – With agencies

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 30, 2012, on page 1.
Home Middle East

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
More from
Lauren Williams
Syrian figures of all sides flock to Dubai
Jarba re-election likely to test Saudi-Qatari rift
Truces break down thanks to mistrust
Moadamieh activist released after 17 days
Fears of regime onslaught after cease-fire

Baabda 2014
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Wednesday, April 23, 2014
View all view all
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Israel shows Zionism’s true colors
Michael Young
Michael Young
For Christians, blessed are the dividers
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
An Iran deal is close, but we’re not there yet
View all view all
Click to View Articles
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS