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Communications blackout doesn't deter hackers targeting Syrian regime

  • APTOPIX Mideast Syria_Grat.jpg

    Nov. 29, 2012: Night falls on a Syrian rebel-controlled area as destroyed buildings, including Dar Al-Shifa hospital, are seen on Sa'ar street after airstrikes targeted the area last week, killing dozens.AP Photo/Narciso Contreras

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    Nov. 27, 2012: In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian rebel fires his weapon during clashes with government forces in Aleppo, Syria.AP/Shaam News Network

  • Mideast Syria_nov25 (1).JPG

    Nov. 25, 2012 - Image taken from video obtained from Ugarit News of Syrian rebels capturing a helicopter air base near the capital Damascus after fierce fighting in Syria.AP

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    Nov. 27 2012: A Free Syrian Army fighter fires his weapon toward a military tank, unseen, in Daraa, Syria.AP Photo/Ugarit News via AP video

An Internet blackout and complete lack of phone service has not stopped the infamous international hacker group Anonymous from its cyberwar on the Syrian regime.

The hacker group, which has been credited with online attacks on governments, international banks and even the CIA, claims it is retaliating against the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad, which it believes had shut down online and cellphone access this week, perhaps in preparation for a major offensive.

“We are going to take down every embassy in the world Assad has left, begining [sic] with his biggest and most powerful supporter nations,” reads an online document purportedly posted Thursday by Anonymous.

The government blamed rebel fighters for the outages, and claimed to be working to restore access. But members of Anonymous scoff at those claims, according to a hacker source with knowledge of Anonymous's activities. It’s clear that “the cables were not cut, the source said, indicating the regime is behind the blackout.

“Places that are hosting Syrian content outside the region are being told they are hosting illegally and some are allegedly shutting down those servers/sites,” he told FoxNews.com. “Assad's move is a prelude to something bad and bigger,” he told FoxNews.com -- one reason Anonymous is going after all Syrian government sites, specifically focusing on embassy sites outside of the country.

The group claims to be trying to help Syrians get back online despite the problems.

“They are just trying to support the Syrian people to have access,” he told FoxNews.com. “They have been passing the telecomix dial up accounts to Syrians so they can get to the net.”

Online messages from Anonymous confirm the calls for cyberattacks against Syrian allies.

“Start with China, Russia has no web site. hack it if you can," said a recent post. "If we don't get it that way then later tonight we'll put the lasers on it.”

Internet access remained completely shut off on Friday, according to Internet connectivity monitors at Renesys.

“Still no signs of life from the affected prefixes,” wrote chief technology officer Jim Cowie on the company’s blog. “Looking back over the last week, you can see that the routing of the Syrian Internet has actually been pretty stable until today's wholesale shutdown.”

Google’s Transparency report likewise lists the country’s servers as inaccessible.

The Internet outage is unprecedented in Syria's uprising against Assad, which activists say has killed more than 40,000 people since the revolt began in March 2011.

Meanwhile, rebels battled regime troops south of Damascus on Friday, but the government reopened the road to the capital's airport in a sign the fighting could be calming, the Associated Press reported. The general manager of the Syrian Civil Aviation Agency, Ghaidaa Abdul-Latif, said the airport was operating "as usual" on Friday, though some flights were canceled a day earlier because of the violence.

But online, the battle continued.

“By turning off the Internet in Syria, the butcher Assad has shown that the time has come for Anonymous to remove the last vestiges of his evil government from the Internet,” the group wrote online.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jeremy A. Kaplan is Science and Technology editor at FoxNews.com, where he heads up coverage of gadgets, the online world, space travel, nature, the environment, and more. Prior to joining Fox, he was executive editor of PC Magazine, co-host of the Fastest Geek competition, and a founding editor of GoodCleanTech.