Syria Blames Internet Outage On Technical Problem

BEIRUT (AP) -

A problem with a fiber optics cable was responsible for an internet outage that cut off civil war-ravaged Syria from the rest of the world for nearly 20 hours, state media said Wednesday.

Internet service stopped abruptly Tuesday evening, prompting speculation that the regime had pulled the plug, possibly as a cover for military action. However, no large-scale military offensives were reported Wednesday and the opposition did not accuse the regime of sabotage.

In the past, the regime halted Internet service in selected areas during government offensives to disrupt communication among rebel fighters. The last nationwide outage, for two days in November, coincided with a major military operation near the capital, Damascus, and its international airport.

A U.S.-based Web watcher said the problem would have to occur somewhere inside Syria for the entire country to be affected, although it was impossible to tell from a distance exactly what happened.

Preventing Internet access has become a tool of last resort for governments trying to suppress unrest.