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Syria fires Scud missiles at rebels: US officials

Washington, Dec 13 (): Syrian forces loyal to the Syrian government reportedly fired Scud missiles against rebel forces according to the UK and US governments. US and NATO officials confirmed that a lot of short-range Scud type missiles had been fired.

U.S. military satellites confirmed the infra-red signature of the four short-range Scud missiles, which were fired from the An Nasiriyah Air Base, north of Damascus area into northern Syria. Another series of blasts has hit the Syrian capital Damascus.

This is the first time Assad forces fired the Soviet designed Scud missiles to push back the rebel groups which are believed to be making significant gains against government forces.

The government has been forced to use artillery from troops, and now to missiles as the rebels have taken over military bases and closed in on the capital, Damascus. In this civil war, 40,000 Syrians had been killed earlier.

However, none of the missiles have landed on Turkish side. NATO is also preparing to send a Patriot missile defence system to neighbouring Turkey after it made the request at a meeting in Brussels last week.

The Scud missile has a range of up to a few hundred kilometres and are best-known internationally from the 1991 Gulf War when the then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein fired them at Israel.

The Scud missiles are capable of carrying chemical and biological warheads which can be fired at some distance to cause enormous damage. However, there were no reports of any usage of chemical weapons, the official said. Syria is believed to have at least three types of Scud missiles, the most sophisticated of which can travel to areas over 400 miles.

US President Barack Obama has warned Mr Assad of the “consequences” of using chemical weapons against his own Syrian people after the security officials said they had detected activity at chemical weapon depots.

On Wednesday, newly Syrian formed opposition coalition has won recognition from the international supporters in Morocco.