The Syria blackout

Cloudflare reports: The Syrian Minister of Information is being reported as saying that the government did not disable the Internet, but instead the outage was caused by a cable being cut. Specifically: “It is not true that the state cut the Internet. The terrorists targeted the Internet lines, resulting in some regions being cut off.” From our investigation, that appears unlikely to be the case.

To begin, all connectivity to Syria, not just some regions, has been cut. The exclusive provider of Internet access in Syria is the state-run Syrian Telecommunications Establishment. Their network AS number is AS29386. The following network providers typically provide connectivity from Syria to the rest of the Internet: PCCW and Turk Telekom as the primary providers with Telecom Italia, TATA for additional capacity. When the outage happened, the BGP routes to Syrian IP space were all simultaneously withdrawn from all of Syria’s upstream providers. The effect of this is that networks were unable to route traffic to Syrian IP space, effectively cutting the country off the Internet.

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.

James Miller writes: Why has the regime cut the internet? For a possible answer, one has to understand the duality of the insurgency.

The insurgency has many dimensions, but — to oversimplify it — two are notable. The first is what we see in Deir Ez Zor or Aleppo or Idlib Province — a semi-functional military apparatus, either coordinated at the brigade level or on a larger scale. These units seek military victories, destroying the regime’s resources and capturing bases, equipment, and territory. This element to the Free Syrian Army has been building for many months, and has not lost a battle since September. It has been advancing steadily since June; however, in recent weeks, this force has surged in a series of one-sided victories from Damascus to Aleppo, from al Raqqah to Deir ez Zor, and beyond.

But in Damascus in particular there has been a second dimension: while there is no place for a traditional military to hide, insurgents have been eating away at the Assad regime for months. Despite efforts to put them down, opposition fighters have been able to hit regime targets and then melt away into the civilian population operating very much like insurgents in Iraq or South Vietnam.

This is the imminent threat. While the military wing of the insurgency is creeping forward, slowly encircling the capital, the lurking enemy lies in many neighborhoods across the city and its suburbs. It is this two-pronged threat that has toppled a half dozen bases around Damascus since the beginning of October.

Now the target is the airport: if that is closed, all sense of normalcy will be gone. Over the last several nights, there have been insurgent attempts to take it. Now it appears that the challenge may be serious enough to close the airport — maybe for good. The news has already shaken the confidence of the international airlines, hesitant to send their people and planes into what looks like a warzone.

Elements of the Syrian opposition military are closing a noose around the cities of Idlib, Deir Ez Zor, and Aleppo. Once these are surrounded, or possibly captured, Al Raqqah and Hassakah in the north, and Hama in the west, will be the new targets. The insurgents are making a play for Daraa, and are attempting to build strength around Damascus while reducing Assad’s military advantage.

Many of the bases recently taken by the insurgents, particularly around Damascus, do not look as though they were vigorously defended, indicating that morale is the lowest it has been. As an insurgent advance takes much of his country, Assad could find his closest defenses dissolving in a matter of days, or even hours.

Anonymous Operation Syria issued a press release saying: Fortunately, Anonymous has been working with Syrian activists for well over a year in anticipation of this moment. We produced and disseminated the Syrian Care Package – http://bit.ly/Wxx0ev and there are emergency independent media centers already set up in every city of Syria. Activists and independent journalists in Syria will be able to utilize these media centers to get news and media out of Syria, and Anonymous will assist in propagating that media to the world. Anonymous will keep open the lines of telecommunication with the free Syrian people. We will be the voice of the voiceless in Syria.

“When your government shuts down the Internet, shut down your government.” ~~ Anonymous Egypt

Anonymous will NOT allow this massive violation of the human rights of the free Syrian people go un-punished. We feel this is a desperate move by a dying regime, one that has slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Beginning at 9:00 PM ET USA Anonymous will begin removing from the Internet all web assets belonging to the Assad regime that are NOT hosted in Syria. We will begin with the websites and servers belonging to ALL Syrian Embassies abroad, which we will begin systematically removing from the Internet tonight. Our first target will be the website of the Syrian Embassy of in China: syria.org.cn – we encourage the media to follow the Twitter account @OpSyriaIRC for announcements on take-downs, defacements, data dumps, E-Mail bombs and black fax attacks. By turning off the Internet in Syria, the butcher Assad has shown that the time has come for Anonymous to remove the last vestiges of his evil government from the Internet. Soon, his people will remove him from this world. Let the final battle for a free Syria begin….

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