Syrian Internet Restored After Nationwide Blackout

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

War-torn Syria suffers another nationwide online blackout, with fingers pointed firmly at the Government

Most of Syria, which is currently embroiled in a bitter-civil war, lost their online connection to the outside world for a number of hours on Thursday, the latest in a a series of blackouts that have hit the beleaguered country in the past few years.

The Internet outage began on Thursday at approximately 12.30pm GMT, according to two companies that monitor the availability of the Internet in that country and lasted until 7pm. Akamai noted the almost total blackout of the country on Thursday, but said that its traffic monitoring service had indicated that connectivity had now been restored .

Internet Outage

Syria - Shutterstock - © domdeenAnother Internet monitor, Renesys, said that 84 networks experienced an outage in Syria, which represents 95 percent of the routed networks in the country.

And it pointed the finger firmly at the Syrian government, as “100 percent of the networks in this event reached the Internet through the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment,” which is of course controlled and managed by the Syrian regime.

However Renesys did also note that the only online link remaining online during the outage was via TurkTelecom, which connects to the city of Aleppo, the scene of some of the most intense fighting in the country’s three-year civil war. It also confirmed that the blackout now appears to have ended.

“Unfortunately, today’s Internet outage in Syria is just the latest communications blackout in the country’s long-running civil war,” Doug Madory, a researcher at Renesys was quoted as saying by the Washington Post. “The link to Turkey, established last summer, appears intact, which is consistent with outages over the past few months. Aleppo’s outages occur independently from the country-wide blackouts.”

Previous Blackouts

Syria has been plagued by a series of outages in recent years, and in the past, the Syrian director-general of that country’s telecoms firm has claimed that the outages were a result of a maintenance and repair work. However, it is agreed widely that the Syrian government has manipulated Internet access since the middle of 2011.

Yesterday’s outage was blamed on a ‘breakdown in the optical fibre cable’ in the Damascus countryside, which has now been repaired by telecom engineers, as reported by the state-owned Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), which quoted a source at Communications and Technology Ministry.

How well do you know Internet security? Try our quiz and find out!