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Flights to Syrian Airport Canceled Amid Reports of Rebel Clashes

Damascus International Airport is closed to flights today as government troops fight with rebels on the main road leading to it, Al Arabiya television reported.

The clashes follow a communications blackout as Internet and phone lines went down yesterday. Government officials have blamed rebels for the shutdown, Arabiya said. Emirates Airlines and EgyptAir are among carriers to cancel flights to Damascus.

Communications including cellular networks, landlines and the Internet in many parts of Syria were cut yesterday, the opposition Local Coordination Committees said in an e-mailed statement. Renesys Corp., a Manchester, New Hampshire-based Web monitoring company, said it was the most significant country-wide outage since Egypt’s Internet was shut down amid violent protests in January last year.

Syria’s civil war began in March last year and has left at least 40,000 people dead, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, as rebels fight to oust the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

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