New documents obtained by Sky News revealed that the Assad regime’s recapture of the ancient city of Palmyra from ISIS militants was apparently part of a pre-arranged deal that allowed ISIS to remove its heavy weaponry from the town before withdrawing.
Sky News reported that the documents came from a Free Syrian Army group comprised of ISIS defectors originally from Raqqa, ISIS’ de facto capital in Syria.
ISIS defectors have told Sky News that Palmyra was handed back to Assad forces by ISIS as part of a series of cooperation agreements going back years.
New letters obtained by Sky News, in addition to the massive haul of 22,000 files handed over last month, appear to confirm this.
The documents show an agreement with the Assad regime to withdraw ISIS weapons from Palmyra; a deal between ISIS and the Assad regime to trade oil for fertilizer; and arrangements to evacuate some areas by ISIS militants before the regime forces attacked.
All appear to be pre-agreed deals and suggest direct evidence of deals on the battleground and collusion between the Assad regime and ISIS chiefs.
The authenticity of the latest documents is impossible to verify, but all previous leaked material funneled through this group have proved to be genuine.
The new documents are copies of handwritten orders sent from ISIS headquarters. One document requests safe passage for a driver through ISIS checkpoints “until he reaches the border with the Syrian regime to exchange oil for fertilizer.” The defectors claim that this is a trade agreement between the two sides that has been going on for years.
Another letter contains instructions for a commander to “transfer all equipment and weapons to the agreed evacuation point. We have received intelligence that al Qasr and its surroundings will be bombed on 24th November, 2013.” The defectors say this was a withdrawal agreed between the Assad regime and ISIS.
The most interesting document was written shortly before regime forces recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra, after months of occupation by ISIS. “Withdraw all heavy artillery and anti-aircraft machine guns from in and around Palmyra to Raqqa province,” the document said. (Source: Agencies)