Syria shut down most of its Internet and mobile data connections as protests escalated, with about 50,000 demonstrators in the streets on “Children’s Friday” to remember the dozens of children killed in the uprising, the Washington Post reported Friday. The demonstrators called for President Bashar al-Assad to quit, Reuters reported.
James Cowie of Renesys, a New Hampshire-based company that monitors Internet routing data in real-time, said in a blog post that about two-thirds of all Syrian networks became unreachable early in the morning in Syria. The networks that remained reachable included those belonging to the Syrian government, he said, "although many government websites are slow to respond or down."
"The Oil Ministry is up, for example, and Syrian Telecom's official page, but the Ministry of Education is down, as is the Damascus city government page, and the Syrian Customs website," he said.
A Syrian government-sponsored Web site confirmed that the Internet had been disconnected across the country: “The Syrian government has cut off Internet service (3G, DSL, Dial-up) all across Syria, including in government institutions,” the Washington Post reported
The Syrian protests, which began in January, intensified this week after a video of the corpse of a 13-year-old boy, Hamza Ali al-Khatib, who was allegedly tortured and killed by Syrian security officials, was posted on YouTube and other social networks.
Assad’s forces have killed more than 1,000 people and detained more than 10,000 since protests began in mid-March, according to human rights groups, Bloomberg said. Initial pledges of reform from the regime haven’t been repeated in recent weeks as the conflict has intensified.
In Hama on Friday, at least 34 protesters were killed when security forces opened fire on them coming out of two mosques after the Friday Islamic prayer, according to a doctor reached by satellite phone, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"There were no warning shots or tear gas this time—they just opened fire immediately and the first row of people dropped like flies," the doctor said.