With pitched fighting in Damascus, Al Jazeera reports that the Internet is down across Syria, and mobile phone services also disrupted in some areas. Syrian state TV denied the blackout is nationwide, but Renesys, a US-based network security firm that studies Net disruptions, said Syria has effectively disappeared from the Internet. There is some talk that the Net blackout may be due to insurgent attacks, but the regime seems to be conniving in it, at the very least. Recall that when Mubarak pulled the same stunt in January 2011, it proved to be the 10-day countdown to his overthrow.
Syrian rebels (for a second time, by our count) claim to have shot down a government MiG fighter jet, near the Turkish border. NPR has the dramatic crash on video, and reports that the critical weapon was a portable shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile called a MANPAD. Recall that MANPADs are at play in some of the conspiracy theorizing about the Benghazi affair. Did these missiles come from Libya, with US lubrication?
Turkey is still waiting on NATO to make a decision on Ankara's request for the deployment of missile defense batteries along its border with Syria. Even while making the request, President Abdullah Gul tried to sound reassuring, saying a Syrian attack on Turkish territory was unlikely because it would be "madness." (AFP, Nov. 29; VOA, Nov. 26)
Russia's newly-appointed envoy to NATO, Alexander Grushko, warned that deployment of the missilies would mean open involvement by the alliance in the Syrian conflict. "Previously, the alliance officials have repeatedly said that Syria is not Libya, and NATO doesn’t have a role in the Syrian conflict," he said at a meeting with the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels. (PanArmenian, Nov. 30)
NATO approves missiles for Syrian border
Meeting in Brussels, NATO on Dec. 4 approved the deployment of Patriot anti-missile batteries along Turkey’s border with Syria. NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the ministers had “unanimously expressed grave concerns” about the use of chemical weapons. (BBC News, Dec. 4)
At least 29 were killed—including a teacher and several students—when a mortar strike hit a shcool in the Damascus suburb of Bteeha that day. The regime and rebels each blame the other, of course. (NYT, Dec. 4)
NATO missiles deployed to Syrian border
A NATO convoy has left the Netherlands for Turkey with a battery of Patriot missiles to be deployed on the Syrian border, BBC News reported Jan. 7. Three days later, BBC News reported new ballistic missile strikes by the Syrian government against rebel-held territory in the north. Jan. 15 bomb blasts at Aleppo University left nearly 90 dead, with the opposition and regime predictably both blaming each other. (AP, The Guardian, Jan. 16; The Lede, Jan. 15)