If your takeaway from the reports on Friday's air strikes on Syria's chemical weapons facilities by US, French, and British forces was that President Bashar al-Assad's ability to conduct future chemical strikes had been eliminated, you'd be wrong.
In the wake of the strikes, there have been no reports of casualties at the targeted facilities—the Barzeh research and development center, the Him Shinshar storage facility, and a bunker—nor any reports of gas leakage, suggesting the sites could have been abandoned or only in light use.
Then-Secretary of State John Kerry said "we got 100% of the chemical weapons out," and some 600 metric tons of chemical agents were destroyed by the US.
The takeaway: "Mr. Assad has learned a lot about how to hide his stockpiles from inspectors."
The Pentagon reportedly limited the strikes to targets where civilians wouldn't be affected.
It's essential in the Middle East for water purification, making it both legal and lethal. Though chemical weapons treaties ban the use of chlorine as a poison, they do not make it illegal to possess.
How Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, puts it: "For me, the big story is chlorine; it’s not sarin. ... You either have to deter the regime from using it by imposing significant costs, or you have to get rid of the regime. But there is no way you can get rid of the capability." Head to the Times for the full analysis.
This article originally appeared on Newser: Why Assad Is Still Able to Kill With Gas