The Washington Post

As Syrian rebels flee Homs, communications to the area remain down

The Free Syrian Army said Thursday it was retreating from the besieged Bab Amr neighborhood in the central city of Homs, The Post’s Liz Sly reports. The group said it had made the decision out of concern for thousands of civilians in Bab Amr who refused to leave their homes.

But with satellite phone signals and other communications to the area out, it is difficult to pin down what is happening.

A blurry video screengrab shows Syrian troops as they move to retake Bab Amr on Wednesday. (AP/YouTube)

Communications have been blacked out since the Syrian military launched a major offensive Wednesday to take Bab Amr.

At many times throuhgout the one-year-old uprising, the only information and footage of the violence coming out of Syria was from citizen journalists or activists, as foreign journalists were barred from entering.

But Thursday, the flow of citizen journalist YouTube videos, tweets, photos and other information came to a halt.

A Syrian activist in Homs told Lorna Ward, a broadcast journalist at Sky News, that only a few people had communications to the outside and that “the regime are constantly trying to find us.”

Another activst named Sami, known as @samsomhoms on Twitter, who is still in Homs, tweeted Thursday:

#Offline #Now i will try to re-connect in just 3 hours don’t forgot to pray for #Homs and all #Syria Salam

— Samsom homs (@Samsomhoms) March 1, 2012

A rebel Facebook and Twitter account called “The Syrian Days of Rage” responded to the lack of communications by posting old photos.

And Mulham Al-Jundi, an activist and member of the opposition Syrian National Council, said he moved to the Old City neighborhood in Homs because his tweets were not getting out of Bab Amr.

Syrian authorities in the past have blocked land and mobile phone lines, but activists could communicate with the outside world by satellite phone. As of this writing, even satellite signals seem to be jammed.


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