As war rages on in Syria, Bashar al-Assad's government hasn't hesitated to direct its attacks at civilians. Just last week, a military plane used cluster bombs—explosives capable of blanketing hundreds of yards—against the small town of Marea, the New York Times reports. Four were killed and 23 wounded, and every one was a civilian, locals say. Why attack the village? It's a matter of retribution for supporting the rebels, residents say. Marea is home to a top rebel field commander, Abdulkader al-Saleh.
"The regime especially hates us," says an activist. Now, the government is moving on to its strongest weapons—among the last it has, experts say. An area just outside Marea was hit by cruise missiles yesterday, according to locals. "In the coming days, he’ll use the chemicals and he’ll destroy everything," a fighter said of Assad. The government's tactics might be dubbed "boil-the-frog-slowly," analysts tell the Times: The slow buildup of weapons in use has made it tougher for Western nations to justify entering the conflict, in contrast with Libya. There, NATO entered quickly as Moammar Gadhafi employed a heavy arsenal right away. (Read more Syria stories.)