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Anonymous declares war on Syrian government websites

Online hacktivist group Anonymous has announced a campaign against the Syrian government after it emerged yesterday that Internet and mobile phone connections have been cut in the country.

Renesys and Akamai Technologies, both Internet intelligence firms, reported that Internet connectivity has been shut down completely in the Syrian capital Damascus.

The Syrian government has previously cut off Internet access during major military operations but it blames "terrorists" for the latest disconnections, according to the BBC.

Anonymous said that after "exhaustive analysis" of the blackout, it concludes that President Bashar al- Assad's regime is responsible for the Internet outage.

"Essentially, they have physically 'pulled the plug out of the wall'. As we discovered in Egypt, where the dictator Mubarak did something similar - this is not damage that can be easily or quickly repaired," Anonymous said in a press release.

Describing the outage as a "desperate move by a dying regime", Anonymous confirmed that it will mount a campaign at 18:00 Pacific Time (00:00 GMT) called "Operation Syria" to remove all Internet assets belonging to Assad's government hosted outside the country. The first target will be servers for all Syrian embassies, the group said.

Anonymous has become increasingly embroiled in conflicts across the Middle East. Earlier this month, it launched a hacking blitz on Israel in response to airstrikes on Gaza. The move, dubbed "Operation Israel," saw the hacker collective take down and deface a number of key Israeli websites, including one belonging to the Israel Defense Forces.

Meanwhile, search giant Google noted that Syrians were unable to access any of its services. including YouTube, which is commonly used by activists to upload footage from the country.