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Syrian military forces use scud missiles on rebels

By Greg Goodsell
December 13th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In what is seen as a sickening escalation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of brute force against unarmed civilians, Scud missiles have recently been discovered being used against rebel fighters. A United States official, speaking on condition of anonymity said the incendiary bombs and scud missiles are a serious escalation of the 21-month-long conflict.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - "Scuds landed within Syria," the official told the AFP news agency. The weapons, containing highly flammable materials designed to inflict severe burns, were dropped in populated areas, the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch says.

The group based its findings on interviews with witnesses and analysis of videos uploaded by activists online.

The discovery brought vehement condemnation from the White House. White House spokesperson Jay Carney says that if current information is true, it would be "the desperate act from a regime that has shown utter disregard for innocent life, utter disregard for the lives of its own citizens."

Carney called the missile launches within Syria's own borders "a stunning, disproportionate military escalation."

Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State Victoria Nuland says "we're seeing missiles employed now" but did not elaborate on what type of missile. Nuland also added that Syria is also using another kind of "egregious weapon.

"It's kind of a barrel bomb, which is an incendiary bomb that contains flammable materials," she told journalists.

Another U.S. official said he could confirm a New York Times story that the Syrian government was unleashing Scuds.

The Times newspaper story quoted an anonymous U.S. administration official that the Assad regime had fired around six Scud missiles from the Damascus area against rebels in northern Syria in recent days.

This action may indicate a rapidly deteriorating regime that's grasping at straws. Mark Perry, a military and foreign affairs analyst says that the reports are "credible", but the use of the unmanned missiles is a "very desperate measure" by Assad's forces.

The use of the missiles may be a sign that the Assad forces "are up against a wall" and running out of pilots or helicopters with which to fire back at the armed opposition, Perry says.

A journalist in northwestern Idlib province said he had heard powerful explosions for the past three days coming from the direction of the Sheikh Suleiman army base captured by opposition groups at the beginning of the week.

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