Communications Blackout in Syria

Quoted in The Weekly Standard:

Two technology firms that monitor global Internet traffic report that Syria has been cut off from the Internet. Regular landline phone and cell phones services have been affected as well, Syrian opposition activist Ammar Abdulhamid told me. “Therefore, the possibility of accidental damage can be discounted,” said Abdulhamid. “This is something done intentionally by the regime, and reflects growing desperation on account of the recent advances made by rebels, especially in Damascus.”

The communications blackout may signal that the 20-month-long uprising against Bashar al-Assad has moved to a new and even more violent stage, in what some are calling the battle for Damascus. “With Assad forces now conducting major operations in Damascus,” says Abdulhamid, “they will cover it up as much as possible and create their own version of the truth.” …

Assad’s desperation, said Abdulhamid, is a product of the rebels’ recent advances. “In the last two weeks, the regime has lost six air bases around Damascus and Aleppo,” Abdulhamid said. “The rebels might not be able to hold all those bases, but they’ve lifted arms from those bases, including the surface to air missiles with which they’ve brought down 9 aircraft in the last two days—5 MiGs, 4 helicopter gunships.”

In effect, the opposition has begun to carve out a small no-fly zone of its own. “The rebels,” says Abulhamid, “are quietly laying siege to Damascus.”