Almost all of Syria's Internet-facing networks are currently unreachable, network monitoring company Renesys has reported, prompting questions if the government in the civil war-ridden country has decided to black out telecommunications nationwide.
Starting overnight, 92 percent of networks in Syria experienced outages; all these are reachable through Autonymous System (AS) 29386 which is registered to the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment, a privately owned telco also known as Syriatel.
Government affliated Syriatel is owned by Rami Makhlouf who is a first cousin of president Bashir al-Assad. It provides broadband Internet access and mobile telecommunications services to a large part of the country.
ITnews was unable to reach websites in Syria such as the Syriatel one this morning, and the Oregon Exchange BGP Route Viewer showed no routes for AS29386, according to Joe Abley, trustee for the New Zealand Network Operators Group (NZNOG).
Abley also said two of Syria's .sy top-level domain nameservers, ns1.tld.sy and ns2.tld.sy have no routes in the global routing table and do not respond.
Two other .sy TLD nameservers outside Syria respond however and will continue to resolve existing domains, he said.
Furthermore, Google's Transparency Report noted that all its services are inaccessible in Syria as of overnight.
Via Twitter, people are reporting that Internet and mobile access in Syria are both down. Landlines still appear to be working.
The outage was confirmed by Syrian information minister Dr Umran al-Zabi who went on the pro-government Ikhbariya TV station and blamed "terrorists", not the state, for the Internet being cut "in some regions."
Engineers are working to repair a fault on Syria's main communications and Internet cable, the information minister said.
According to Wired, Syrian rebels have taken to the Internet and social media as part of their fight against the government, posting training advice on weapons and tactics on YouTube and Facebook as well as documenting atrocities said to be committed by regular troops.
The rebels are currently enjoying success in the bloody civil war which has seen thousands of people, civilians and combatants, die. They are fighting a fluid war of attrition to avoid being pinned down by the superior weaponry of the al-Assad government, with the Internet being used to spread word of the victories.
Syria's apparent withdrawal from the Internet mirrors last year's actions by the Egyptian government, which in January disconnected the country during the uprising there.