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Posted at 09:58 AM ET, 06/03/2011

Syria internet services shut down as protesters fill streets


Syrians living in Lebanon carry portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as they rally after Friday noon prayers. Photographs from Syria are difficult to get out. (Joseph Eid - AFP/Getty Images)
All internet service in Syria has been cut as roughly 50,000 protesters filled the streets in a call for “Children’s Friday” to remember the dozens of children killed in the protests, and to demand the “immediate resignation” of President Bashar al-Assad.

A government-sponsored Web site has confirmed that the Internet has been disconnected across the country: “The Syrian government has cut off Internet service (3G, DSL, Dial-up) all across Syria, including in government institutions.”

A Syrian blogger in Damascus tweeted about the Internet shutdown, which she said was happening for the first time.

A Google Traffic transparency report shows a huge drop in traffic today:


A close look at the very end of the chart shows a rapid decline in traffic on June 3. (Screengrab from Google Transparency report)

The Internet has always been monitored in Syria, with dozens of Web sites inaccessible in the country, Facebook and YouTube once banned, and a teenager previously convicted of espionage and sentenced to five years in prison for political poetry.

But this is the first known instance of a total internet shutdown.

The Syrian protests, which began in January but have taken several months to gain momentum, hit their peak this week after a video of the corpse of a 13-year-old boy, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, who was allegedly tortured by Syrian security officials, was shared thousands of times on YouTube and other social networks.

Protesters are also angry over the deaths of 73 other children since the protests began, with seven child deaths this week alone, many who died from shelling and shootings, according to activist group the Local Coordination Committees of Syria.

More than 1,100 Syrians have died since mid-March.

Many of the protesters gathered in the city of Hama for protests Friday. Watch a video that is said to show the Hama protests below:

By  |  09:58 AM ET, 06/03/2011

 
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