Update #2 (11:40 AM ET, 11 Oct 2013) Aleppo returns
— Renesys Corporation (@renesys) October 11, 2013
Update (12:38 PM ET, 10 Oct 2013) Aleppo down
— Renesys Corporation (@renesys) October 10, 2013
In late August, we reported the Internet blackout in war-torn Aleppo, Syria. The outage occurred as Syrian state telecom, STE, lost its connection to Turk Telecom in neighboring Turkey. (It should be noted that STE’s connection to Turk Telekom was restored on 5 September in a greatly reduced fashion and the blackout in Aleppo continued.)
Yesterday, we observed a new connection between Syria and Turkey. At 14:45:24 UTC on 8 October, we observed a new relationship in BGP routing coming out of Syria. Turk Telekom gained a new Syrian customer, the Syrian Computer Society (SCS) (AS24814). Autonomous system (AS) number 24814 has not been seen in BGP routing since 29 January 2011.
Although this new routing path does not include the two ASNs of STE (AS29386 and AS29256), it would be incorrect to conclude that this path somehow circumvents the infrastructure of the state telecom. Since yesterday, there are four networks announced by SCS and routed to Turk Telekom: two /24’s, and two much larger /19’s networks. The two /24’s were transitioned from STE’s main ASN (AS29386) to the new SCS ASN (AS24814) over the course of yesterday (depicted in the graphs below).
With the smaller networks successfully transitioned, SCS began announcing the larger networks several hours later (shown below). For seven hours STE announces 18.104.22.168/19 to Turk Telekom in addition to SCS, before transitioning it completely over to SCS. All of this points to an orderly coordination involving STE and thus the blessing of the Syrian government.
Following the establishment of this new connection, we also observed a flurry of tweets out of Aleppo reporting that Internet access had been restored. Here are a few examples:
Aleppo is back online
— ħʊsæm (@Hussamov11) October 8, 2013
food supplies and Internet feed are back to #Aleppo
— Damascus Syria (@Damascus_online) October 8, 2013
Haha wow the people in Aleppo are celebrating cuz the internet is back… 😀 i love my Syrian people ♥
— yasmeen (@YasmeenBabetji) October 8, 2013
In an article last week, Al-Akhbar English claimed the outage was not the work of the Syrian government, but the opposition Sharia Council. Either way, the restoration of Internet services in Aleppo may allow greater communication access to the outside world, which is a small step in the right direction.