Free Syrian Army fighters prepare their weapons in Aleppo's
al-Amereya district. REUTERS/Saleh Anadani
The head of NATO says he thinks the government of Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad is nearing collapse, and has
condemned the use by Assad's forces of Scud missiles to attack
"I think the regime in Damascus is approaching collapse,"
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters
after a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at NATO
headquarters. "I think now it is only a question of time."
Rasmussen, confirming comments to Reuters on Wednesday by
NATO and US officials, said the alliance had detected the
launch of a number of unguided, short-range Scud-type
missiles inside Syria earlier this week.
"The use of such indiscriminate weapons shows utter disregard
for the lives of the Syrian people. It is reckless and I
strongly condemn it," he said.
Syria on Thursday denied that it had used Scud missiles in
its fight against what it calls "terrorist groups", a Foreign
Ministry statement posted on state news agency SANA said.
Rasmussen urged the Syrian government to "stop violence, to
realise what is the actual situation and initiate a process
that leads to the accommodation of the legitimate aspirations
of the Syrian people".
NATO agreed last week to send Patriot missiles to Turkey to
protect it against the threat of missiles from Syria.
Rutte, whose country is one of three planning to send
Patriots to Turkey, said he expected the missiles to be
operational by the end of January.