Security Experts:

Internet Service Resumes in Syria After Blackout

DAMASCUS - Internet and telephone services resumed in Damascus on Saturday after a three-day blackout, an AFP reporter and state news agency SANA said, as a watchdog said they were up in most parts of Syria.

"Internet is back in Damascus and in parts of Damascus province," the correspondent said, adding that mobile phone lines were also back up.

State news agency SANA confirmed the reports, saying the outage had been due to maintenance.

"All communication lines are back up in Damascus, after maintenance works were completed," the agency said.

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights added that "communications lines are back in most of Syria's provinces."

SANA resumed its wire service as soon as Internet services resumed, and the state television's website was also back up.

Several anti-regime activists went online after services resumed.

"Facebook has lit up," said a Damascus-based opposition activist via the Internet.

Activists in Aleppo and Raqa in the north, as well as Damascus province, contacted AFP via the Internet, to confirm services had resumed.

"At the moment, Facebook is the place for Syrians to congratulate each other for having the Internet back," a Damascus-based activist who identified herself as Lena said via the Internet.

Activists and human rights monitors said ordinary civilians were hardest hit by the blackout than the opposition as they were unable to use cell phones even to call for emergency assistance in the event of casualties from the persistent violence rocking the country.

The Syrian authorities said the interruption to normal service was purely for maintenance but Washington said the move was a deliberate ploy to impede communications among rebels and opposition activists.