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Syrian Internet Service Starts as Assad Forces Clash With Rebels

Syrian communication services resumed today as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad battled armed rebels across the country, state TV reported.

The broadcaster’s website started working again today after all Internet traffic in and out of Syria was shut down on Nov. 29. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in an e-mail today that mobile-phone services and the Internet were working.

Syrian forces killed five rebels in Deir Ezzor province in an assault on the town of Ayash, while clashes were raging in the Damascus suburbs, according the Observatory. Fighting near Damascus International Airport on Nov. 29 prompted both Emirates and EgyptAir to cancel flights to and from Syria. Yesterday, the airport was closed to flights as troops clashed with rebels on the main road leading there, Al Arabiya television reported.

The Internet outage was so extensive that essentially all of Syria was cut off from the Internet, making it the most significant nationwide outage since Egypt’s Internet went dark in January 2011 amid violent protests, according to Renesys Corp., a Web-monitoring company based in Manchester, New Hampshire.

‘Failed State’

Syria’s 20-month civil war has resulted in at least 40,000 deaths, the Observatory said, and rises by about 150 a day as opposition forces seek to oust the government. Assad’s forces killed 73 people today, including 23 in Damascus and its suburbs, the opposition Local Coordination Committees said in an e-mail today.

The United Nations envoy to Syria warned yesterday that the Middle East country in the throes of a civil war runs the risk of becoming a “failed state” unless a peace agreement is reached.

“Naturally, nobody wishes to see a failed state in Syria,” Lakhdar Brahimi, a veteran diplomat, told the UN General Assembly. “Nobody wants to see the state and its institutions withering away, lawlessness spreading, warlordism, banditry, narcotics, arms smuggling, and worst of all, the ugly face of communal and sectarian strife take hold of Syria.”

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