National Security

Syria’s Government-Backed Telecom Company Announces 10-Day Internet Outage

Blackout comes days after Russian ship spotted off Syrian coast

The Russian research ship Yantar

Syria’s government-affiliated telecommunications company announced Tuesday that 60 percent of the country’s Internet will be down for ten days beginning Wednesday. Syrian Telecom attributed the outage to "submarine cable repairs" on international service lines.

The anticipated outage will come just days after U.S. intelligence and military officials reported a Russian ship equipped with cable-cutting technology near the coast of Syria, the Daily Beast reported.

Blackouts in the war-torn country have often preceded military offensives by the Bashar al-Assad regime and its allies in Syria, raising concerns that Russia may be tampering with the country’s communications systems as its military continues its air campaign against rebel forces in the besieged city of Aleppo.

Dyn, a U.S.-based company that tracks Internet outages globally, reported last week a drop in the number of available networks in Syria soon after the siting of the Russian ship Yantar.

The spy ship, officially classified as a Russian navy oceanographic vessel, is equipped with two remote submarines that have the ability to cut cables miles below the ocean’s surface, the New York Times reported last year.

U.S. spy satellites, ships, and planes closely monitored Yantar last year when it cruised off America’s East Coast en route to Cuba, where a major cable lies near the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay.