NATO detects more Scud-type missile launches in Syria

BRUSSELS Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:03am EST

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - President Bashar al-Assad's military has fired more Scud-type 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 chief 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.

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.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Alistair Lyon)