December 2, 2012
Phone, Internet Service Restored To Syria Following Two-Day Blackout
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online
Citizens throughout Syria had their Internet and cellphone service restored Saturday, two days after a nationwide communication blackout that some are blaming on the nation's government.
According to the Associated Press, US-headquartered online intelligence monitoring company Renesys confirmed that Syria experienced a "largely complete restoration" of its Internet network at approximately 4:32pm local time.
Mobile phone service seemed to be "mostly back up" on Saturday as well, the wire service added. Wire service reports suggest that many traditional, landline telephones were unaffected by the blackout.
"Experts say the shutdown was likely caused by President Bashar Assad's regime, raising fears that the government is taking increasingly bold measures to cut off the country from the outside world as it tries to crush a relentless rebellion," AP writer Bassem Mroue said.
Mroue explained that the blackout, which affected "Damascus and its suburbs -- the flashpoints of recent fighting between government soldiers and rebels," had raised concerns that there was "a burst of fighting outside the public eye."
He added that the government and the rebel factions are accusing each other of causing the blackout.
"A Syrian government information minister said Friday that 'terrorists' -- which is how the Assad regime refers to rebels in a bloody, ongoing civil war -- cut the cable, knocking out Web communication with other countries," CNN's Amir Ahmed and Laura Smith-Spark reported on Saturday.
Ahmed and Smith-Spark added that a state television news anchor reported Saturday that "all the Internet connections and communication lines" had been restored after technicians were able to repair a malfunction in the main power grid for the suburbs of the Syrian capital.
"After the blackout took effect, many activists and ordinary Syrians had feared that the government was planning a new offensive against civilians," Washington Post reporters Babak Dehghanpisheh and Ahmed Ramadan said, adding that the federal government had "denied any role in the communications shutdown" and that "the precise cause of the blackout remained unclear" as of Saturday evening.
The AP notes that the battle between the Assad regime and rebel forces has been going on for some 20 months, and that a reported 40,000 people have been killed as a result of a series of protests that has escalated into a full-fledged civil war. At least 165 deaths resulting from the conflict were reported on Saturday alone, according to CNN, with 60 of those occurring in and around the areas affected by the blackouts.
"Human rights groups say that at least 30,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began last year," Dehghanpisheh and Ramadan said.