Damascus airport road reopens, Net still down

Syrian rebels battled regime troops south of the capital on Friday and Internet and telephone lines were cut for a second day, but the government reopened the road to Damascus’ airport in a sign that the fighting could be calming.

President Bashar Assad’s regime and opposition activists blamedeach other for the blackout, which is the first to hit the whole country since Syria’s 20-month-old uprising began. Syrian authorities previously have cut Internet and telephones in areas ahead of military operations.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the main road to Damascus’ airport reopened early on Friday afternoon. There were intense clashes after midnight in villages and towns near the airport but the area was calm by the late morning. Rebels were able to destroy several army vehicles near the airport.

Activists say Assad’s regime pulled the plug on the Internet on Thursday, 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.

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