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Syria fires more Scud missiles at rebels; NATO chief condemns Assad regime

Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters

Damage such as this, seen Friday in Aleppo, has been frequently blamed on Syrian fighter jets firing missiles at rebels. The military is now firing Scud missiles, as well, NATO says.

President Bashar Assad's military has fired more Scud missiles inside Syria, NATO officials said on Friday, more than a week after the Western alliance first detected such arms being used on rebel targets.

"I can confirm that we have detected the launch of Scud-type missiles. We strongly regret that act," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, calling the launches "acts of a desperate regime approaching collapse."

A NATO source said there had been multiple launches of Scud-type missiles inside Syria on Thursday morning.

The Syrian military has fired Scud missiles at rebel forces in the north from the Damascus suburbs. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports.

On Dec. 12, U.S. officials confirmed to NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski that the Assad government had been launching the missiles at rebel fighters in the north of the country. The officials said that as many as eight Scud missiles had been fired over several days from launchers in the suburbs surrounding Damascus at areas considered rebel strongholds. According to one official, the United States has tracked the Scuds by radar.

Rasmussen used the Scud launches to justify NATO's decision to dispatch Patriot anti-missile systems to NATO ally Turkey — a deployment criticized by Syria, Iran and Russia.

"The fact that such missiles are used in Syria emphasizes the need for effective defense protection of our ally Turkey," he told reporters after talks at NATO headquarters with Djibouti Prime Minister Dileita Mohamed Dileita.

"The recent launch of missiles has not hit Turkish territory, but of course there is a potential threat and this is exactly the reason why NATO allies decided to deploy Patriot missiles in Turkey, for a defensive purpose only," he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Muhammed Muheisen / AP

A look back at the violence that has overtaken Syria.

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