Multiple Internet monitoring companies are reporting that Syria has been hit with a near country-wide outage. According to Renesys, the outage started at 12:26 UTC, and the only online link remaining is one via TurkTelecom that connects the city of Aleppo. Aleppo, Syria's largest city, has been the site of some of the most intense fighting in the country's three-year civil war.

"Unfortunately, today's Internet outage in Syria is just the latest communications blackout in the country's long-running civil war," says Doug Madory, a researcher at Renesys. "The link to Turkey, established last summer, appears intact, which is consistent with outages over the past few months. Aleppo's outages occur independently from the country-wide blackouts."

Cybersecurity firm Akamai's State of the Internet monitoring service showed a similar disruption.

A group calling itself the "European Cyber Army" is claiming responsibility for the outage on Twitter and in a posting to text sharing site PasteBin. In the note on PasteBin, the group calls the outage retaliation for attacks on western systems by the Syrian Electronic Army -- an unofficial group of pro-Assad regime hackers that have gone after prominent western figures and media outlets, including The Washington Post.

"As far as ECA's claims that they caused the outage, I don't see anything different so far," says Madory. "Their claim would be much more credible if they had announced it before Syria went down."

Update: Renesys is now reporting Internet access has been restored in Syria after a seven plus hours. Post sources in the region confirm the Internet is back online in Damascus.

After service was restored, the state-own Syrian Arab News Agency, posted a statement attributing the outage to a "breakdown in the optical fiber cable."