The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has been cooperating for years with the Islamic State group that controls swathes of the country, Sky News reported Monday. The collaboration even includes the Syrian army’s recent recapture of the ancient city of Palmyra from the jihadist terror group, the report claimed.
Sky News said that it obtained the information from “leaked secret IS files,” among them some 22,000 documents it received last month, as well as what it said were “new letters.” The news outlet said it received the documents via a Free Syrian Army group whose members currently live in Turkey but are originally from Raqqa, now Islamic State’s capital in Syria. The group reportedly helps to smuggle defectors from the Islamic State in Syria.
The leaked documents, the report said, show that IS reached an agreement with the Syrian regime to withdraw its weapons from Palmyra, a UNESCO site in the Homs Governorate that the Damascus government retook from the terror group in March, with the aid of Russian airstrikes and Hezbollah fighters.
The documents also reportedly reveal that the two sides came to an arrangement under which Islamic State fighters would withdraw from a territory before the start of an assault from the Syrian army. The two sides also struck a deal “to trade oil for fertilizer,” the report said.
According to Sky, each of these agreements appears to be prearranged, “and suggest direct evidence of collusion between the Syrian regime and Islamic State chiefs.”
While the report stated that it would be impossible to verify the authenticity of the information, it said that all previous leaks it received in the same manner “have proved to be genuine.”