Phone and internet networks were down across most of Syria for a second straight day on Friday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Rami Abdel Rahman, Observatory director, said in some areas it was still possible to access the internet “but with great difficulty”.
“It is also very difficult to reach people by phone. But we have received reports that it is possible to communicate between certain regions via fixed telephone lines,” he added.
The official news agency SANA had still not resumed transmission Friday after its feed was cut on Thursday at midday. Its website was also inaccessible.
On Thursday afternoon, when communications were first cut in Syria, activists accused the regime of preparing a “massacre” while the authorities explained this interruption as “maintenance”.
The United States on Thursday accused the Syrian regime of cutting off internet and telecommunications links in the war-torn country, branding the move a sign of desperation.
Amnesty International said on Twitter that reports of an internet shutdown were “very disturbing”.
Meanwhile delegates from more than 60 countries agreed in Tokyo to ramp up pressure on Bashar al-Assad’s regime and urged the international community to unite to force change in Syria.
The “Friends of Syria” condemned the “incessant killings, bombings of residential areas” and the “gross violation of human rights” that have taken place since Assad’s forces moved to crush an uprising.
At a meeting in the Japanese capital, the group’s fifth since its inception, they called for a full oil embargo on Syria, a move aimed at cutting off a rich source of currency for the regime.
In a statement released after the meeting, the group, which includes Western and Arab countries, called on “all members of the international community, especially members of the United Nations Security Council, to take swift, responsible and resolute action”.
Two of the five permanent members of the Security Council – China and Russia – have blocked action.
The statement welcomed the formation of the National Coalition, a newly-unified opposition group that has been recognised by Britain, France and Spain as the legitimate representatives of Syria.
It also called for ramping up of sanctions to tighten the noose around the regime, insisting that any ill effects suffered by the populace were the fault of the government in Damascus.
“The group called on the international financial and business communities to diligently comply with ongoing and forthcoming measures against the Syrian regime,” it said.
“The group reiterated its call on all states to impose an embargo on Syrian petroleum products and a ban on the provision of insurance and reinsurance for shipments of Syrian petroleum products.”
Presently, the United States has banned the import of Syrian oil and gas, but the EU has not.
On Thursday Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said Washington was weighing what further help it could give the Syrian opposition rebels.
“We are going to carefully consider what more we can do,” Clinton told a Washington forum, saying the United States was constantly evaluating the situation and adding: “I’m sure we will do more in the weeks ahead.”
But she stopped short of saying whether the US would recognise the National Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people.
Privately, US officials have said the Obama administration would likely go ahead and recognise the group at some point.
“We hope the National Coalition … will play a further role as an entity that represents a wider range of the Syrian society, with a common objective of having all the Syrians enjoy peace and prosperity in the new Syria,” Gemba said on Friday.
Along with sanctions on the Assad regime, “providing assistance to refugees and internally displaced people” is essential, said Gemba, adding the world also had to “look ahead to a post-Assad” Syria.