Erdogan promised Trump he'd finish off ISIS in Syria: report

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly told President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE last Friday that his country would handle the remainder of Islamic State forces in Syria following a U.S. withdrawal from the country.

NBC News reports that a senior White House official says that Erdogan personally promised to Trump during a phone call on Dec. 14 that his nation's military would effectively neutralize the remaining ISIS forces operating in Syria, which is estimated to be around 30,000 militants between Syria and neighboring Iraq.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Erdogan said to the president, ‘In fact, as your friend, I give you my word in this,’” a U.S. official told NBC News. A second official confirmed the contents of the phone call to the news network.

The president shocked many in Washington on Wednesday when he announced a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, a move that is thought to have contributed to the resignations of both Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump prizes loyalty over competence — we are seeing the results Lawmakers torch Trump plan to pull 11,900 troops from Germany Are US-Japan relations on the rocks? MORE and envoy to coalition forces Brett McGurk in recent days.

According to NBC sources, that decision was made following Trump's discussion with Erdogan about Turkey's fighting capabilities in the region, while the White House has maintained publicly that Trump was merely informing the Turkish leader of his decision on the call.

On Saturday, the president wrote on Twitter that Middle Eastern countries including Turkey, a NATO ally, could effectively handle the fight against the Islamic State going forward.

“Now ISIS is largely defeated and other local countries, including Turkey, should be able to easily take care of whatever remains,” Trump tweeted. “We’re coming home!”