The internet connection in Syria seems to have returned after a nationwide blackout lasting over 19 hours.
Syria was offline for over 19 hours, but monitoring company Renesys noticed that internet activity started up again around 2.30pm BST, or 5.30pm local time on May 8.
Internet service in Syria stopped just after 6pm yesterday, with companies like Google noticing an almost immediate drop in use of services like Gmail and YouTube in the country.
State-run media originally put the blackout down to a “fault in optical fibre cables”, but experts say this is very “unlikely”.
“Our monitoring shows that Syria’s international internet connectivity is through at least four providers, and published submarine cable maps show connectivity through three active cables,” said Akamai’s David Belson. “As such, the failure of a single optical cable is unlikely to cause a complete internet outage for the country.”
The Syrian government now blame the internet blackout on terrorist activity, but internet experts fear the country was taken offline by the regime.
Syrian citizens were also prevented from accessing the internet for three days in November 2012. The country has been fighting a violent civil war for the past two years, and throughout the Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East, disabling the internet has been used as a tool to prevent rebels from communicating with the outside world and co-ordinating their attacks.
“We’re deeply concerned that this blackout is a deliberate attempt to silence Syria’s online communications and further draw a curtain over grave events currently unfolding on the ground in Syria,” said the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights campaign group. “While heavily censored, monitored and compromised, the internet has served as an important window connecting the world at large to Syria, and one way that international observers could connect with individuals on the ground in that country.”
This latest blackout could be another attempt from the President Bashar al-Assad regime to “silence” rebel communications and contact with other countries beyond Syria.
“A number of activists on the ground in Syria have access to internet via satellite links, which can connect them to the internet but carries a high risk for detection, which can be life-threatening.”