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Syrian state media say Internet service restored

In this Sunday May 5 2013 image taken from video obtained from Shaam News Network which has been authenticated based

In this Sunday, May 5, 2013 image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, armed men stand near the wreckage of a military helicopter, left, in Deir el-Zour, Syria. Syrian rebels shot down a military helicopter in the country's east, killing eight government troops on board a day after opposition forces entered a sprawling military air base in the north, activists said Monday. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)

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BEIRUT — Internet service was restored across Syria on Wednesday, after a countrywide outage cut off the country from the rest of the world for nearly 20 hours, state media said.

The state news agency SANA said a problem with a fiber optics cable was to blame for the second nationwide outage since November.

There had been speculation that the regime pulled the plug, possibly as a cover for military actions, but no large-scale military offensives were reported Wednesday. In the past, President Bashar Assad’s government halted Internet service in selected areas during government offensives to disrupt communication among rebel fighters.

Internet service abruptly stopped at about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday and was back on sometime after 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Syrian websites, including that of SANA, were accessible again after state media reported that service had been restored.

In fighting in Syria on Wednesday, government troops pushed into a strategic town along the highway leading to the Jordanian border.

The regime’s advance into Khirbet Ghazaleh, a town south of Damascus along a key artery to the border, came after weeks of fighting and government attempts to secure the highway.

The push was part of a wider offensive against rebels in which Assad’s troops have regained some areas around Damascus, in the central province of Homs near the Lebanese border and in the region of Aleppo to the north.

The violence came as Iran, one of Assad’s strongest allies, declared that it is ready to help any attempt to end Syria’s crisis. In an opinion published in Lebanon’s daily Al-Akhbar, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi wrote that it is up to the Syrian people to choose their political system and president.



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