The Battle for Syria
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|Jennifer Martinez||November 30th 2012|
Internet service and cellular networks were blacked out in Syria on Thursday, disrupting communications traveling into and outside of the country, according to the State Department.
Renesys, a U.S.-based firm that monitors Internet networks, reported on its blog that Syria's Internet connectivity was shut down early Thursday afternoon and all of the country's IP address blocks were unreachable. Google also reported on its Transparency Report tool that its Web services were inaccessible in Syria on Thursday. The search company tweeted: "Internet access completely cut off in Syria. This is why a #freeandopen Internet is so important."
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said during a Thursday press briefing that groups affiliated with the opposition within Syria have reported that the Syrian government "does appear to be resorting to cutting off all kinds of communication," which has affected Internet access, landline and cellular service across the country.
"Obviously, we condemn this latest assault on the Syrian people’s ability to express themselves and communicate with each other," Nuland said. "And it just, again, speaks to the kind of desperation of the regime as it tries to cling to power."
Nuland added that the U.S. has provided 2,000 pieces of communications kits — including computers, phones and cameras — that can circumvent the Syrian network to individuals associated with the opposition effort.
The communications tools are "are all designed to be independent from and able to circumvent the Syrian domestic network precisely for the reason of keeping them safe, keeping them secure from regime tampering, regime listening, regime interruption," Nuland said during the press briefing. The Syrian government has charged that terrorists are responsible for the Internet blackout, the BBC reported.
Jennifer Martinez writes for The Hill, from where this article is adapted.