NATO official says more missiles launched in Syria

BRUSSELS Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:39am EST

A view of a house damaged by what activists said were missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Jubar, near Damascus, January 5, 2013 in this picture provided by Shaam News Network. Picture taken January 5, 2013. REUTERS/Abu Adel Al-Jubarani/Shaam News Network/Handout

A view of a house damaged by what activists said were missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Jubar, near Damascus, January 5, 2013 in this picture provided by Shaam News Network. Picture taken January 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Abu Adel Al-Jubarani/Shaam News Network/Handout

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A short-range ballistic missile was fired inside Syria on Wednesday, following similar launches last week, a NATO official said on Thursday.

The official condemned as "reckless" the missile launches, which U.S. officials called an escalation of the 21-month-old Syrian civil war when their use was first spotted last month.

"The use of such indiscriminate weapons shows utter disregard for the lives of the Syrian people," he said.

The official said NATO had detected the launch of an unguided, short-range ballistic missile inside Syria on Wednesday, following similar launches on January 2 and 3. All the missiles were fired from inside Syria and landed in northern Syria, he said.

The description of the missiles fits the Scuds that are in the Syrian military's armory, but the official said NATO could not confirm the type of missile used.

The NATO official was responding to a report from a Syrian opposition activist living near the Qaldoun army base, 50 km (30 miles) north of Damascus, who said four large rockets, apparently Scuds, were fired from the base overnight.

NATO has agreed to send Patriot anti-missile batteries to protect its member Turkey from possible missile attack from Syria.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; editing by Rex Merrifield and Sebastian Moffett)

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