WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have fired Scud missiles at rebels trying to overthrow Syria's government, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.
U.S. officials said they were unaware of any previous instances in which Scuds were used against the rebels and it represented an escalation in Assad's struggle to retain power in the 20-month-old uprising in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the use of Scuds.
In Brussels, a NATO official also said on Wednesday that a number of short-range ballistic missiles had been launched inside Syria this week.
"Allied intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets have detected the launch of a number of unguided, short-range ballistic missiles inside Syria this week," the official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
"Trajectory and distance travelled indicate they were Scud-type missiles," the NATO official said. [...]
Speaking separately, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, while not confirming the use of Scuds, said the United States has seen the use of incendiary barrel bombs in recent days.
"As the regime becomes more and more desperate, we see it resorting to increased lethality and more vicious weapons moving forward," she told a State Department briefing.
News of Syria's use of Scud missiles broke as Western and Arab nations sympathetic to the uprising against Assad gave full political recognition to the opposition.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Report: Syrian forces fire Scud missiles at rebels