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Reuters Blogging Platform Hacked With False Post on Syria Rebels

The news agency took down its blogging site for several hours while it addressed the security breach

Thomson Reuters said its blogging platform was hacked on Friday with a false story claiming to carry an interview with a Syrian rebel leader posted on a reporter's blog.

The news agency took the blogs offline  for several hours while it investigated the illegal security breach but restored the site late Friday afternoon.

"Our blogging platform was compromised and fabricated blog posts were falsely attributed to Reuters journalists," the company said in a statement to TheWrap. "We are working to address the problem."

One of the false posts, which has since been deleted, purported to be an interview with Riad al-Assad, the leader of the Free Syrian Army.

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The purported interview, posted on economic writer Jeffrey Goldfarb's blog, featured the rebel leader allegedly saying his forces were pulling back from the northern province of Aleppo, where clashes with the Syrian army have escalated in recent days.

Grammatical errors — missing commas, wrongly conjugated verbs — seem to confirm Reuters' statement, as the news wire reports the editor of each story and typically churns out well copy-edited articles.

"Al-Assad confirmed on a phone call to Reuters that the regular army killed 1000 soldiers of Free Syrian Army and arrest around 1500," the post said.

The Free Syrian Army issued a statement denying that the interview took place and blamed President Bashar al-Assad's government for posting the false information, Reuters said.

Both the government and its opposition have employed hackers and electronic sabotage to further their causes. 

In November, when the civil war was in its earlier stages, a loyalist group called the Syrian Electronic Army hacked into Harvard University's website and posted the message "SyRiAn ELeCTronic ArMy WeRe HeRE" alongside a photograph of the Syrian president and an anti-American screed. 

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"Do you support the war on Syria?" part of the message said. "If you are you, as well as the following Syria's population of 23 million people. This means 23 million mobile bomb. Image what we could do."

Harvard confirmed to the BBC that its homepage was "compromised by an outside party" and, like Reuters, took down the site for several hours.

The Atlantic Wire took a screenshot (pictured above) of the fake blog post from Google's cache.

TheWrap has had a syndication partnership with Reuters since 2011.