We at this blog thought that Assad was going to lose the war. Slowly, over years, but still lose. The reason was that we did not think that a stalement would be sustainable. We began to change our minds over the last few months. Assad gained more material international support than we expected, albeit less than in the fever dreams of a Canadian politician.
Over the weekend, there was a poorly-reported bit of bad news that reinforced our growing belief that Assad could win this thing. Kurdish refugees suddenly started flowing into Iraqi Kurdistan. Why? We do not know, but the reason likely involved fighting among the rebels. It bode ill for the rebellion.
So with Assad consolidating, the rebels dividing, and the prospect of a stable partition on the table ... why would the regime risk it all by using chemical weapons? You can read what the CIA thought of their use during the Iran-Iraq War. (Answer: not much. Here is a PDF of the same document.) Spain used chemical weapons with abandon in the Rif rebellion in Spanish Morocco. They killed a lot of people. But the strategic advantage? Not so much. Ditto Saddam in Kurdistan.
To be frank, however, the governments of Spain and Iraq had no reason not to use chemical weapons against their rebels. The government of Syria has lots of reasons to refrain from using such weapons.
I can only come to three conclusions. (1) Assad is absolutely sure that chemical weapons use will not threaten his support from the axis of unpleasantry or lead to intervention; (2) the story is false; or (3) he is an idiot.
Am I missing something?