Mobile phone and Internet services have been cut in Aleppo, Syria’s second city, where a crucial battle is taking place between rebels and the army, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday.
As many as 71 people have been killed by the fire of Syrian forces across the country, Al Arabiya reported citing Syrian activists.
“Mobile telecommunications services and Internet have been cut off in the city of Aleppo since last night,” it said.
An activist, who asked not to be identified, confirmed that the Internet, landlines and some mobile services were down in the northern city, Syria’s commercial hub.
“MTN is down while Syriatel is working. But Syriatel is working only for calls, not the 3G Internet service,” he said, referring to the only mobile providers in the country. “The landlines are also down.”
A Syrian security source in Damascus told AFP that such cuts are “generally the precursor to a major military offensive.”
The rebel Free Syrian Army has said it controls “50 percent” of Aleppo, where the army is bombarding rebel-held areas but has yet to advance on the ground.
The conflict in Aleppo has raged since July 20, with both sides sending in reinforcements for what the security source has predicted will be a protracted battle.
President Bashar al-Assad’s troops meanwhile bombarded the strategic Salaheddine district in Aleppo itself with tank and artillery fire while rebels tried to consolidate their hold on areas they have seized.
In the capital Damascus, troops overran a suburb on Wednesday and killed scores of people, mostly unarmed civilians, residents and activist organizations said.
The fighting for Syria’s two biggest cities highlights the country’s rapid slide into full-scale civil war 17 months on from the peaceful street protests that marked the start of the anti-Assad uprising.
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