US "has seen evidence" (BBC)


"Syria War : US "has seen evidence" - chemical weapons being prepared", BBC News (07 September 2018)

 This is too much! In the same article (embedded video) we are told that the rebels in Idlib face "overwhelming odds" [against them] because they are "surrounded and outgunned", and yet that the US has " "lots of evidence" that Syrian government forces are preparing to use chemical weapons in Idlib", in spite of the US state department having "warned on Monday that Washington would respond to any chemical attacks by the Syrian government or its allies."

How does this make sense? If the "rebels" are "outgunned" and the odds are decidedly against them, what reasonable motive could there be for Syria to employ—and Russia, which supports it, to allow—the use of chemical weapons, given that both Assad and Putin know all too well that any such use would likely trigger US/UK/French bombing of Damascus? This makes no sense to me.
Luke O'Brien (a US Army reserve officer) and Aaron Stein (a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Harari Center for the Middle East) offered this a while back: "The regime concludes that, in certain instances, the value of using chemical weapons exceeds the potential costs of external military intervention." But even if there have been such "instances" in the past—a subject upon which I have too little reliable information to comment—that calculus wouldn't seem to apply here.
Or maybe I'm wrong. Am I?
Image: "Gas Masks" by Razvan Orendovici on Flickr (CC BY 2.0); cropped
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