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

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

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

There Are New Abuse Allegations Against Adrian Peterson

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

John Oliver Pleads for Scotland to Stay With the U.K.

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Jurisprudence

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police

The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.