Turkish telecom blocks access to Twitter, Facebook after attack on soldiers

(Logo: Twitter/Handout, Graphic: The Desk)

Turkey’s largest telecommunications provider is blocking access to major social media networks following reports of an attack on the country’s troops in neighboring Syria.

Netblocks, an organization that monitors disruptions to websites by state actors across the world, said it confirmed Turk Telekom had blocked access to the microblogging website Twitter on Thursday around 11:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. GMT, 3:30 p.m Eastern US).

The outage extended to other social media websites, including Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, across multiple providers about an hour later, Netblocks said.

The outage appeared to be connected to news reports of an attack on Turkish soldiers in the Syrian town Idlib.

Late Thursday, Turkish officials confirmed 22 soldiers had been killed in an airstrike purportedly by government forces in Syria, according to BBC News.

Turkey was expected to retaliate against Syrian targets in response to the attack, the BBC reported, noting that the country’s president Tayyip Erdogan had organized a “top-level security meeting” following the airstrike.

Idlib is at the center of a massive military campaign between Russia-backed Syrian government forces and rebel groups supported by Turkish forces over control of the territory.

It was not immediately clear why Turkey moved to block the American-based social media networks, though Netblocks said a law amended in 2016 allows the government to impose restrictions on access to websites during times of conflict.

The last time Turkey wholesale blocked access to social media networks was in late 2019 when websites became unavailable during the country’s Operation Peace Spring campaign.