Syria’s Defense Ministry website was temporarily shut down early Monday morning after hackers broke into the site and replaced its content with an anti-government message, according to a CNN report.
The hacking was allegedly perpetrated by Anonymous, a collective of hackers that has carried out similar attacks on companies and government agencies, CNN said. The group has claimed responsibility for several online attacks, including denial-of-service attacks on various Egyptian ministries during that country's revolution.
The ministry’s homepage was replaced with still images from amateur anti-government videos and a Syrian flag that stretched across the page’s center carried the ‘Anonymous’ logo, a headless man in a suit.
The hacked homepage also displayed a statement praising peaceful protesters and denouncing Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The statement, addressed to the Syrian people, said "the world stands with you against the brutal regime of Bashar Assad. Know that time and history are on your side - tyrants use violence because they have nothing else, and the more violent they are, the more fragile they become. We salute your determination to be non-violent in the face of the regime's brutality, and admire your willingness to pursue justice, not mere revenge. All tyrants will fall, and thanks to your bravery Bashar Assad is next."
An additional statement, intended for the Syrian military, read "you are responsible for protecting the Syrian people, and anyone who orders you to kill women, children, and the elderly deserves to be tried for treason. No outside enemy could do as much damage to Syria as Bashar Assad has done. Defend your country - rise up against the regime! -- Anonymous."
The hackers also posted links to anti-government sites, such as the Facebook-based "The Syrian Revolution 2011."
Syrians began protests against the rule of Alawite President Bashar Assad in March of this year, and have been met with violent government crackdowns. World leaders have implored Assad to refrain from brutality, but their calls have largely gone unheeded.
In the most recent crackdown on Sunday, Syrian forces killed at least 60 protesters in clashes.
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