Syria goes dark


Syria on Thursday was abruptly cut off from the Internet, two leading US Internet analysis firms said. Many mobile phone communications in Syria appeared to be cut off too, the BBC and several news organizations reported.

“Starting at 10:26 UTC (12:26pm in Damascus), Syria’s international Internet connectivity shut down,” an analyst with Internet monitoring firm Renesys wrote on the company’s blog  Thursday.  “In the global routing table, all 84 of Syria’s IP address blocks have become unreachable, effectively removing the country from the Internet.”

“We are investigating the dynamics of the outage and will post updates as they become available,” the post continued.

Internet analysis firm Akamai confirmed the analysis, as seen in the graphic above.

The Syrian regime appeared to have cut off the telecom services, in what may be an attempt to make coordination harder for Syrian opposition forces, an activist outside of the country told Al Monitor. Continue reading

Report: Syrian fighter jets over Aleppo

Syrian fighter jets have bombed targets in the Syrian city of Aleppo, a BBC journalist reporting inside the country said Tuesday.

“Fighter jets have bombed eastern #Aleppo city,” the BBC’s Ian Pannell wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “A significant escalation and perhaps the first time they’ve been used in #Syrian conflict.”

The information has not been confirmed. The Associated Press reported that “fighter jets are over the city; they’re flying so fast they’re breaking the sound barrier, perhaps in an effort to scare rebels,” NPR wrote.

Pannell was understood to be traveling with insurgents on the outskirts of Aleppo, near Syria’s northern border with Turkey. Earlier messages he posted to Twitter Tuesday reported fierce clashes between Free Syrian Army rebels and government forces, and many civilians caught in the fighting and families trying to flee.

“If confirmed, the use of warplanes would signify an escalation by the Syrian government in its effort to crush armed resistance in the nearly 17-month-old conflict,” the New York Times’ Rick Gladstone wrote.

Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city and until recently quiet and seen as loyal to Bashar al-Assad, was entering a sixth day of fighting between rebels trying to hold ground and regime forces trying to oust them.

Meantime, Syrian regime forces were reported to have made gains in retaking the capital Damascus some six days after four members of Assad’s inner circle were assassinated July 18th.

“On Monday, Syrian troops moved house to house in neighborhoods that had briefly fallen under rebel control, breaking down doors and detaining suspected opposition sympathizers,” the Washington Post’s Austen Tice and Liz Sly wrote.

(Photo: Syrian rebels hunt for snipers after attacking the municipality building in the Salaheddin district of the northern city of Aleppo during fighting between rebels and Syrian troops, July 23, 2012. AFP.)



Joshua Landis: Why Syria’s Alawis can’t have rump state

Barbara Slavin writes:

As Syria descends into chaos, Joshua Landis, the well-known Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, writes that the minority Alawis will not be able to establish a rump state in their ancestral mountain redoubt once the Assad regime loses control of Damascus.

Writing on his blog, Syria Comment, Saturday (July 21), Landis notes that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has “done nothing to lay the groundwork for an Alawite state. There is no national infrastructure in the coastal region to sustain a state: no international airport, no electric power plans, no industry of importance, and nothing on which to build a national economy.” In addition, Landis says, “no country would recognize the Alawite state” and such a state would be “indefensible.”

In the blog post, Five Reasons Why There Will Not Be an Alawite State, Landis also noted the evolution of the Alawite sect after France assumed control of Syria in 1920:

The segregation that characterized the country under Ottoman rule gradually disappeared, Landis says, as the Alawis came down from the mountains into the Sunni/Christian coastal cities of Latakia, Jeble, Tartus and Banyas. Similarly, Alawis also migrated to Damascus, where there were only 400 of their sect registered in 1945. Continue reading