Syrian forces have fired at least six Scud missiles at rebel fighters since Monday, according to an unnamed source inside the Obama administration. The source told The New York Times the use of missiles represented a "significant escalation" of the conflict.
“The trajectory and distance travelled suggest these were Scud-type missiles,” a British spokesman confirmed to The Telegraph.
Syria has one of the region's largest stockpiles of Scud missiles, a munition originally developed by the Soviet Union and -- frighteningly -- capable of delivering chemical weapons anywhere within Syria's borders.
The Obama administration had previously referred to the use of chemical weapons in Syria as a "red line."
"Today I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command: The world is watching," Obama said in a Dec. 3 release regarding Syria's potential to mobilize its chemical weapons. "The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable."
The reported Scud missile launches do not necessarily mean Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime is gearing up to use chemical weapons, though they do inch that possibility closer to reality. Instead, notes the Washington Post, the Scud launches may be the regime's attempt to ward off outside powers looking to aide the rebels.