Syria Firing Scud Missiles at Rebels, U.S. Says

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 12 2012 2:20 PM

Syria Firing Scud Missiles at Rebels, U.S. Says

158007646
Dust settles as a Syrian rebel commander (C) points to the sky after they got targeted by a government airstrike and the plane dropping it's payload on the building across the road on the front line in the Aleppo neighbourood of Bustan al-Basr, on December 8, 2012

Photo by Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images.

The latest in a string of particularly ominous news out of Syria: Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have apparently begun firing Scud missiles at opposition fighters. According to U.S. officials who spoke to the New York Times, the attacks began on Monday and have continued since:

"The total is number is probably north of six now," said [one] American official, adding that the targets were in areas controlled by the Free Syrian Army, the main armed insurgent group.
It is not clear how many casualties resulted from the attacks by the Scuds — a class of Soviet-era missiles made famous by Saddam Hussein of Iraq during the first Persian Gulf war. But it appeared to be the first time that the Assad government had fired the missiles at targets inside Syria.
Advertisement

The news, which marks a pretty major escalation in the ongoing Syrian civil war, comes one day after that the Obama administration acknowledged a newly-formed opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Today, more than 100 nations attending a Friends of Syria meeting in Morocco announced their full recognition and political support for the opposition coalition.

Scud missiles are primarily defensive weapons, but they can be used to deliver chemical weapons long-range. That's why an unnamed official in the Obama administration described the attacks as a "significant escalation" in the 21-month Syrian conflict. The official also noted that the Assad regime appeared to be using the missiles to "target rebels hiding in playgrounds at schools."

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.