The New York Times has run a report by Michael Gordon, one of the foremost catapulters of Bush propaganda in the lead up to the Iraq war, which quotes anonymous US officials who claim the Assad regime has fired more than half a dozen Scud missiles at rebel fighters over the last few days.
I’m seeing a fair bit of healthy scepticism from some analysts and reporters on my Twitter feed though – based on the logic that if this were actually happening we wouldn’t be hearing about it from officially unofficial US figures, but rather hearing about it from the various rebel groups themselves in every media outlet worldwide they could access. For me, at least, Michael Gordon quoting un-named apparatchiks does not qualify as an ironclad story – not even close – and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more and harder evidence and for official statements from people with actual names.
If true, as the NYT notes, “the move represents a significant escalation in the fighting”. If not, it would represent a serious escalation in US propaganda which has seen anonymous officials recently turn a fairly innocuous intercepted communication about moving some chemical weapons into edge-of-intervention brinkmanship in which Assad has been accused of being about to unleash WMD on his own people at any second and that accusation used as a causus belli. I suspect the beating of war drums is coming from State rather than the Pentagon, where they seem to appreciate the military reality that any intervention by the US in Syria will rapidly take on the size and scope of the Iraqi war and occupation.