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Forces representing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have launched at least six Soviet-era Scud missiles at rebels forces in recent days. The launches represented a significant escalation of the nearly two-year-old conflict, which has killed more than 40,000 civilians.
A NATO official in Brussels told The Guardian that "Allied intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets have detected the launch of a number of unguided, short-range ballistic missiles inside Syria this week … Trajectory and distance traveled indicate they were Scud-type missiles."
The bombardments came as over 100 countries granted full political recognition to the rebels, including the United States on Tuesday. Such international recognition brought the rebels one step closer to becoming a government-in-exile, though anti-Assad forces fear a new gruesome chapter in the conflict.
The New York Times quoted The Local Coordinating Committees, an anti-government activist network in Syria which reported that “Regime forces are firing land missiles that are capable of carrying chemical warheads.”
Supporters of the rebels have threatened a serious response if chemical weapons are deployed. Government and rebel forces have been clashing for two weeks around Damascus, both attempting to gain the upper hand as the war enters the capital.