Internet: Backbone of Media, But Source Of Concern For Reporters In Idilb
The media activist Abdel Razeq Sobeih takes multiple risks as he covers incidents in the southern countryside of Idlib, but uploading information on the internet is his greatest challenge.
In addition to the ability at providing quick coverage of events and news, the media work in Syria requires the special features of courage, continuous training and deeply rooted professional safety measures, as well as being capable of having access to the Internet almost in no time.
Southern rural Idlib and northern rural Hama have suffered from a continued shutdown of the internet and other communication-related services, accompanied by the escalation of the military campaign carried out by the Syrian regime and its Russian ally since last April.
Though the rapid pace of the events the area is witnessing is of a massive importance, as it triggered the largest wave of displacement and caused the heaviest destruction in southern rural Idlib and northern rural Hama since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, the reporters and media activists have been facing extreme difficulties in delivering and reporting news, for they are alienated from the virtual world due to the absence of internet.
Light of fiber internet diminishes
The “Fiber Optic Internet” provides areas of northwestern Syria with the internet-based services, which is the network that connects fiber optic cables in Turkey with broadcasting towers, the Director of Sham Network in Idlib, Abdul karim al-Qadri, told Enab Baladi, adding that the key internet service providers are Turkcell, Turk Telekom and Online.
The airstrikes, during the latest offensive against the area, made a direct target of the internet towers, disrupting connection and preventing its maintenance, in addition to displacement conditions, under which internet service suppliers have abandoned their areas.
Al-Qadri pointed out that the areas where the internet towers had not been targeted have also encountered obstacles in operating these towers due to power outages and difficulty at utilizing generators and benefiting from solar panels, which suffered substantial damage as a result of the bombing.
Cumulative risks in search for “internet signal”
Abdel Razeq Sobeih indicated to Enab Baladi that he has to walk kilometers, at times over 10 kilometers, in order to deliver footage and other materials he collects while covering happenings, through which he documents successive incidents minute by minute, given the internet cuts in the majority of the areas, located close to the contact line with Syrian regime forces in southern rural Idlib, northern rural Hama and Mount Shashbo.
During the search for a signal, the reporters and media activists “get into difficulty and take a very big risk, as we go to prepare and send videos since some villages became in direct contact with the regime’s sites as well as being subjected to attacks and airstrikes,” Soheib said.
The media activist Baha Sweid, covering incidents in Kafranbel in southern rural Idlib, has similar problems, for most of the people have forsaken the afflicted city, including many internet suppliers.
Only media activists, ambulance crews, White Helmets and some residents who could not afford the displacement remain in the city, Sweid mentioned to Enab Baladi.
He added that the city suffered a significant devastation caused by the damage of the fiber connection that feeds the internet towers, which also makes maintenance very dangerous, for
the maintenance worker can be exposed to a deliberate targeting when observed by a surveillance aircraft