Middle East expert says he worries Turkey influenced Trump's Syria decision

Middle East expert Nick Heras said on Thursday that he is concerned that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan influenced President TrumpDonald TrumpJury in Jussie Smollett trial begins deliberations Pence says he'll 'evaluate' any requests from Jan. 6 panel Biden's drug overdose strategy pushes treatment for some, prison for others MORE's decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria. 

"What I worry about is that in his discussions with President Erdogan, Erdogan sold him a lie, that Turkey actually wants to prevent the reemergence of ISIS, and that it isn't trying to get into eastern Syria to suppress the Kurds," Heras, a Middle East security fellow at the Center for a new American Security, told Hill.TV's Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on "Rising." 

U.S. support for Kurdish forces in Syria has played a major role in stoking U.S.-Turkish tensions because Ankara believes Kurdish forces in Syria are linked to Kurdish insurgents in Turkey. 

Erdogan recently threatened to launch a new assault on U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria.

Trump announced on Wednesday that ISIS in Syria has been defeated, and the White House later confirmed that the administration has "started returning United States troops home" while emphasizing that coalition efforts in Syria would continue. 

The president has long spoken out against a prolonged U.S. military presence in the Middle East, frequently lambasting former President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003. 

"We've known since he was on the campaign trail that he doesn't like wars in the Middle East, and he wants to 'knock the crap out of ISIS,'" Heras said. 

"I do believe that he has been uncomfortable with an indefinite U.S. presence in Syria. He was uncomfortable with the decision over the summer to add the counter-Iran component of the U.S. presence in Syria, so I do believe this has been on his mind," he continued. 

— Julia Manchester