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Syria Gets Its Internet Back

Syrians check e-mails, chat and connect to their Facebook accounts in 2011 at an Internet cafe in Damascus.
Muzaffar Salman
Syrians check e-mails, chat and connect to their Facebook accounts in 2011 at an Internet cafe in Damascus.

Internet access appears to be returning in Syria after an outage hit most of the war-torn country, according to web monitoring firm Renesys.

It estimates the web blackout began Tuesday night and lasted for nearly 20 hours but tweeted Wednesday afternoon that "platform traffic to the country is increasing."

All incoming and outgoing Syrian Internet traffic was suddenly interrupted around 9:45 p.m. local time, according to The Washington Post. It's not clear whether internal Syrian Internet communication also went down.

"It seems Syria has largely disappeared from the Internet," wrote Dan Hubbard, chief technology officer at OpenDNS, an internet security firm that also tracked the dropoff in traffic.

Hubbard's blog reminded people this has happened before, most recently in November. "Although we can't yet comment on what caused this outage, past incidents were linked to both government-ordered shutdowns and damage to the infrastructure, which included fiber cuts and power outages."

The Syrian regime initially blamed "terrorists" for the outage. But the state news agency SANA said later that it was caused by problems with a fiber optics cable, according to The Associated Press.

Reuters was reporting that: "the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group that monitors both President Bashar al-Assad's security forces and the rebels, cited military sources who said the blackout was part of a security force operation."

Last November, there were fears that if the Syrian regime had in fact cut Internet access, that a major military operation was about to begin. That outage, the Post noted, may have been an effort by the government to limit rebel communication — at the time, there was significant fighting near the main airport in Damascus.

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Korva Coleman is a newscaster for NPR.