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.
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."
TODAY IN SLATE
The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola
Are the Attacks in Canada a Sign of ISIS on the Rise in the West?
PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer
Everything You Should Know About Today’s Eclipse
Fascinating Maps Based on Reddit, Craigslist, and OkCupid Data
Welcome to 13th Grade!
Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.
The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.