Syria removed from the Internet

Image credit: Akamai.

Syria completely disappeared from the Internet on Thursday as clashes around Damascus between government and rebels intensified.

Network operators have reported Syrian the blackout occurred around 10:26 UTC, coinciding with a government attack on rebels to the east of Damascus, the BBC reported.

Syria’s information minister has blamed terrorists for the ongoing internet blackout, however the swift takedown suggests this was not the case.

Internet intelligence company Renesys reported earlier on Thursday (10:26 UTC) that all 84 of Syria’s IP address blocks became unreachable, “effectively removing the country from the Internet”.

It said that 77 customers of nation’s main network provider, Syria Telecommunications, remained unreachable throughout Thursday.

The country’s cut-off was more complete than Egypt’s outage in January 2011, according to Matthew Prince, chief of CDN provider CloudFlare.

“Since the beginning of today's outage, we have received no requests from Syrian IP space. That is a more complete blackout than we've seen when other countries have been cut from the Internet (see, for example, Egypt where while most traffic was cut off some requests still trickled out).”

Arbor Networks also reported traffic to and from Syria had vanished based on a snapshot of 246 network operators around the world.

CloudFlare’s Prince said it was highly unlikely terrorists would have cut the cables since the dramatic drop off in traffic would have required four cables spread across the nation to have been cut simultaneously.

“Syria has 4 physical cables that connect it to the rest of the Internet. Three are undersea cables that land in the city of Tartous, Syria. The fourth is an over-land cable through Turkey. In order for a whole-country outage, all four of these cables would have had to been cut simultaneously. That is unlikely to have happened.”

CloudFlare has posted a video of Syria’s internet takedown.

“The systematic way in which routes were withdrawn suggests that this was done through updates in router configurations, not through a physical failure or cable cut.”

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