EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The chemical weapons (CW) possessed and employed by Syria since it undertook to completely get rid of them have become an increasingly tangled web over the past year. This has many ramifications, particularly in light of the recent US-Britain-France raid against Syria.
Irrespective of the practical impact of the recent US-led raid on Syria, the very fact that such raid took place signifies the genuine and uncompromising condemnation by the Western powers of the use of CW by Assad. While limited in scope, the raid was a meticulously coordinated, strategic military operation. Syria’s CW capability remains significant not only because appreciable quantities of CW were hidden, but because it appears that an orderly renewal of CW production was covertly commenced. The full extent of these two Syrian capacities is not known.
More intriguing is the Syrian employment of CW. The concrete mechanism of Assad’s decision-making in relation to the transition from conventional to chemical weapons (CW) is not clear. It can be assumed that he is the authority approving that transition, at least in those cases where sarin was employed (this is not necessarily the case with chlorine).