Syrian Minister says terrorists cut off Internet


    Syria’s communications minister said the “terrorists,” not the state, turned off the Internet across the country on Thursday, Reuters reports . “It is not true that the state has turned off the Internet. “The terrorists attacked the Internet lines, as a result of which some regions were cut off.”

    The minister also said that engineers are already working on restoring communications. Prior to this, it has been speculated that the military turned off the Internet in response to the successes of the rebels in a civilized country. At the same time, CloudFlare conducted an investigation and questioned the minister’s statement, concluding that 4 cables could not be physically damaged, and the Internet was disconnected by updates in the router configuration.

    According to CloudFlare, the state-owned company Syrian Telecommunications Establishment is the exclusive provider in Syria. Her AS number is AS29386. Typically, Syria’s connection to the rest of the Internet is provided by transit providers PCCW and Turk Telekom and optionally Telecom Italia and TATA. When the disconnection occurred, BGP routes in the Syrian IP address space were simultaneously withdrawn from all Syria transit providers. As a result, networks could not direct traffic to the Syrian IP address space and the country was successfully disconnected from the Internet.

    Syria is connected to the rest of the Internet by 4 physical cables. Three of them pass under the sea and overlook the city of Tartus. The fourth passes by land through Turkey. To disable the Internet throughout the country, all four of these cables had to be damaged at the same time. An unlikely scenario.

    One of CloudFlare engineers recorded a video that shows how network routes were recalled. Syrian Telecommunications (AS29386) is represented by a red dot in the middle of the video. Lines are routes to Syrian transit providers.

    At 10:26 UTC, routes were recalled from PCCW and mainly switched to Turk Telekom. Routes with Telecom Italia and TATA were also recalled, but this had less impact. Then, at 10:29 UTC, the routes were withdrawn from Turk Telekom. After that, Syria was virtually cut off from the Internet.

    CloudFlare suggests that Syria has few border routers. All are under the control of Syrian Telecommunications. The way routes were recalled allows us to say that this was done through updates to the configuration of the routers, and not by physical damage to the cables. One can only guess about the reasons.

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