Beirut – Internet service went down Thursday across Syria and international flights were canceled at the Damascus airport when a road near the facility was closed by heavy fighting in the country’s civil war.
Activists said President Bashar Assad’s regime pulled the plug on the Internet, perhaps in preparation for a major offensive. Cellphone service also went out in Damascus and parts of central Syria, they said. The government blamed rebel fighters for the outages.
With pressure building against the regime on several fronts and government forces on their heels in the battle for the northern commercial hub of Aleppo, rebels have recently begun pushing back into Damascus after largely being driven out of the capital following a July offensive. One Damascus resident reported seeing rebel forces near a suburb of the city previously deemed to be safe from fighting.
The Internet outage, confirmed by two U.S.-based companies that monitor online connectivity, is unprecedented in Syria’s 20-month-old uprising against Assad, which activists say has killed more than 40,000 people.
Mexican environmentalist, son killed by traffickers
Mexico City – An environmental activist who attempted to protect Mexican forests from drug traffickers has been slain along with her 10-year-old son, even though they were under police protection, her associates said Thursday.
Juventina Villa Mojica was killed Wednesday when about 30 gunmen intercepted her police convoy in the mineral-rich hills of southern Guerrero state, colleagues said. Her son, Rey, was also killed, and a 7-year-old daughter survived, the associates said.
Her death follows the recent slayings of at least 15 other local activists, including Villa’s husband last year, in increasingly violent Guerrero. Drug traffickers in the state covet the many virgin forests both for the profitable lumber they yield and the space to plant marijuana and other crops that can be used to produce narcotics.