Internet in Syria appears to be coming back on Saturday. The country went offline on Thursday at around 10:26 UTC as Internet connectivity was cut in the entire country.
Both Renesys and CloudFlare are reporting Internet access appears to have been re-established. The former didn’t give a time, but their post is dated 11:24AM while the latter says partial connectivity started to appear at 14:32 UTC, meaning the Internet was unavailable for at least 48 hours. Update: Both companies now say 14:32 UTC is when restoration began.
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Renesys confirms a “largely complete restoration of the Syrian Internet” with Internet service being provided post-restoration by Telecom Italia, Tata Communications, Turk Telecom, and PCCW. CloudFlare meanwhile also says that connectivity with global Internet carriers PCCW and TATA has been re-established.
Meanwhile, the BBC today reported that Internet services around Syria’s capital Damascus have resumed, but said it was not clear how much Internet access was available elsewhere. CNN added that Internet and cell phone coverage were restored to most Syrian provinces, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Internet disconnections have been a tactic used by governments in Egypt and Libya before, and Syria’s government has been accused before of cutting Internet and telephone connections to block opposition activist and rebel communications. That happened again this time, yet Syrian information minister said on Thursday that “terrorists,” not the state, cut the Internet.
President Bashar al-Assad has largely left the country’s access intact during the 20-month struggle with rebels. On Friday, Syrian officials blamed technical problems for the cutoff.
Regardless of who is to blame (we seriously doubt it’s the rebels, given the nature of the outage), losing Internet access in an entire country can be brutal, even just for a few hours. While it can be effective at cutting communications, in Syria the fighting did not cease. The conflict has now been going on for 20 months and still does not look like it will be resolved any time soon.