U.S. Calls Syrian Regime "Desperate" Following Scud Launch Reports

Syrian opposition fighters stand on a tank captured in Aleppo province. The Assad regime is alleged to have begun using Scud ballistic missiles against rebel forces (AP Photo/Manu Brabo).
Syrian opposition fighters stand on a tank captured in Aleppo province. The Assad regime is alleged to have begun using Scud ballistic missiles against rebel forces (AP Photo/Manu Brabo).

The Obama administration on Wednesday said the Syrian government's use of Scud ballistic missiles against rebels indicates just how desperate President Bashar Assad has grown in his efforts to crush the nearly two-year armed battle against his rule, the New York Times reported.

“As the regime becomes more and more desperate, we see it resorting to increased lethality and more vicious weapons moving forward, and we have in recent days seen missiles deployed,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

A minimum of six Soviet-era Scuds are understood to have been launched this week against opposition fighters, according to U.S. officials. The high-altitude missiles are not highly accurate but can be loaded with chemical weapons payloads.U.S. officials have said Syrian use or proliferation of chemical arms would be the "red line" that could provoke unspecified intervention in the civil war that has already caused 40,000 deaths.

The Scud attacks "may be another example of the unintended consequence of the red line the [Obama] administration has drawn with regard to chemical weapons,” Institute for the Study of War analyst Joseph Holliday told the Times. “Assad views every weapon short of chemicals as fair game.”

Damascus on Thursday dismissed reports of its use of Scuds, the Associated Press reported.

Should the reports prove true, Damascus will have used every military means at its disposal with the exception of its chemical arsenal, according to the Irish Independent.

"We condemn this in strongest possible terms that demonstrates the appalling brutality of the regime and its desperation to go to any lengths to deny his people their legitimate aspiration," according to a NATO source.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) told Reuters foreign nations should be skeptical of Damascus' repeated promises that it will not use chemical weapons against opposition forces. "I believe that they have put elements of their chemical weapons in a condition of which they could be used at a moment's notice, which is very different from before," the lawmaker said.

"It would not be unusual for a regime that possesses some fairly sophisticated weapons systems in these last, I argue days and months, or days and weeks, of a pretty desperate regime to use the weapons at its disposal," he said."So Scuds, and I make the next leap of chemical weapons, I think is of real concern."

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Thursday said it is "only a matter of time" before the Assad government falls, AP reported. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, meanwhile, acknowledged that " an opposition victory can't be excluded, unfortunately, but it's necessary to look at the facts: There is a trend for the government to progressively lose control over an increasing part of the territory," according to a separate AP report.

 

December 13, 2012
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The Obama administration on Wednesday said the Syrian government's use of Scud ballistic missiles against rebels indicates just how desperate President Bashar Assad has grown in his efforts to crush the nearly two-year armed battle against his rule, the New York Times reported.

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