Türk Telekom cites infrastructure problems for Syrian Internet cuts

August 23, 2012, Thursday/ 11:00:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH AP

Turkey's largest fixed line operator, Türk Telekom, on Thursday cited “malfunction in fiber optic cables” inside Syria for Internet service cuts to the civil war-torn country.

The company released a written statement to say the reason why they stopped providing Internet to Syria was due to infrastructure problems experienced in Turkey's southern neighbor. The statement follows earlier reports that said Türk Telekom had cut the Internet connection to Syria without citing any explanation. “These reports do not reflect reality. … It is true that we have been experiencing problems in providing Internet service to Syrian customers since Aug. 11. However, Türk Telekom has never intervened to cut Internet service to this country,” the company said.

Reports said on Wednesday that Türk Telekom had withdrawn Internet services to Syria. The Associated Press quoted a firm that tracks the pathways of the Internet as saying a Chinese company was keeping war-torn Syria connected to the Internet, while other telecommunications companies, including a Turkish firm, withdrew.

The Syrian government ultimately controls the Internet connection to the outside world, but it's a major route for rebel communications and news from the country as the civil war intensifies. Hong Kong-based PCCW Ltd. is now carrying most of the Internet traffic to and from Syria, according to Renesys Corp., a Manchester, New Hampshire, company that studies the structure of the Internet. PCCW has shouldered the load as Türk Telecom, the main phone company in neighboring Turkey, dropped away Aug. 12. It's not clear what killed its connections to Syria, but Turkey has protested the Syrian regime's actions. China is one of Syria's few international allies. Renesys said Tuesday that Telecom Italia of Italy and Deutsche Telekom of Germany also carry some Syrian Internet traffic, but the Italian company's share is declining for unknown reasons. Türk Telecom and Telecom Italia did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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