**IS Files Reveal Assad’s Deals With Militants
Islamic State and the Assad regime in Syria have been colluding with each other in deals on the battleground, Sky News can reveal.
Our exclusive investigation into leaked secret IS files suggests one piece of co-operation was over the ancient city of Palmyra.
The files also show that the militant group has been training foreign fighters to attack Western targets for much longer than security services had suspected.
The revelations underscore fears in the United States that a network of sleeper cells is spread across Europe, avoiding detection, and is planning further Paris- and Brussels-style assaults.**
IS defectors, meanwhile, have told Sky News that Palmyra was handed back to government forces by Islamic State 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.
:: An agreement with the Syrian regime to withdraw IS weapons from Palmyra.
:: A deal between IS and Syria to trade oil for fertiliser and;
:: Arrangements to evacuate some areas by Islamic State forces BEFORE the Syrian army attacked.
All appear to be pre-agreed deals and suggest direct evidence of collusion between the Syrian regime and Islamic State chiefs…
The most interesting document was written shortly before the Syrian army recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra, after months of occupation by IS.
“Withdraw all heavy artillery and anti-aircraft machine guns from in and around Palmyra to Raqqa province,” the document says.
I asked one of the defectors if Islamic State was coordinating movement of its fighters and leaving areas they previously controlled, in direct coordination with the Syrian army and even the Russian airforce.
His answer was simple. “Of course,” he said.
Terror experts asked to analyse the documents say they show this is arguably the most complicated war they have ever tried to make sense of.
“This is a war of perception and narrative and everyone is trying to manipulate events,” said Dr Afzal Ashraf from the think tank Royal United Services Institute.
“It may take 20 years before what we know exactly what is going on,” he added. "Almost certainly there will be some sort of communication going on between mortal enemies, and that is for short term tactical gains and losses.