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Syria Internet 'restored' after blackout

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Syria's Internet appeared to have been restored on Wednesday afternoon after a two-day blackout, residents and state media said.

The blackout was blamed by state media on a technical fault, but activists and a watchdog accused the regime of deliberating cutting the connection to shield military operations.

In a breaking news alert, Syrian state television announced internet and communications were back up and running.

Landline phone services between Syrian provinces had also been down since Tuesday, state news agency SANA said.

US tech firms and the US State Department reported the blackout on Tuesday but did not specify any reasons for it. A similar blackout happened last November.

"Internet services and phonecalls between provinces were cut off Tuesday evening because of a fault in optical fibre cables," SANA said before service was restored.

"Efforts are ongoing to fix the faults and to bring Internet and telephone services back up as soon as possible," the agency said quoting a communications official.

Activists who frequently use the Internet to report on violence engulfing their country blamed the authorities for the blackout.

"Even satellite communication devices" used by many anti-regime activists to avoid surveillance "have been slow," a Syrian activist currently out of his country told AFP's Beirut bureau.

"I think the regime has a plan to stage some kind of attack. That's what happens every time Internet goes down," said the activist, an Internet expert who identified himself as Fares.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blackout appeared to be a deliberate cut to help regime forces carrying out military operations.

Syria is ranked 176 out of 179 countries in a worldwide press freedom index compiled by international press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

burs-sah/al

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130508/syria-internet-restored-after-blackout