By Patrick J. McDonnell
11:54 AM AKST, December 13, 2012
BEIRUT — Syria "completely denies" reports that its forces used Scud missiles against rebels fighting to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad, the official media reported Thursday.
The state news service quoted a source in the Foreign Ministry labeling as “untrue rumors” reports of the use of Scuds, a Soviet-designed surface-to-surface ballistic missile that can carry large payloads but is not especially accurate.
“It is well known that Scud missiles are strategic long-range missiles and are not used in facing armed terrorist gangs,” said the state news service, using the official label for anti-government rebels.
Anonymous U.S. sources with access to intelligence information were quoted in the media Wednesday saying that Syria had fired half a dozen Scud missiles at targets in rebel-held areas of northern Syria. Western officials called the action a sign of the government’s desperation as rebels make territorial gains and degrade the fighting ability of security forces.
“We have in recent days seen missiles deployed," U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington on Wednesday, declining to give additional details or specify whether she was referring to Scuds. "As the regime becomes more and more desperate, we see it resorting to increased lethality and more vicious weapons."
No authoritative video images or witness accounts have emerged to date of Scud missiles fired in Syria.