US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the possible withdrawal of US forces from Syria ahead of Trump's announcement of the move on Wednesday, CNN reported on Sunday.
A senior administration official who received a detailed readout of the phone call between Trump and Erdogan told the network that Erdogan was explaining all the problems with the US presence in Iraq and Syria and was irritating Trump.
According to the source, Trump said, "OK, it's all yours. We are done."
A separate source familiar with the December 14 call confirmed that Erdogan made his case to the President that the US should pull out of Syria by pointing to the near-total defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) in the country. The President then sought assurances from Erdogan that Turkey would continue to fight ISIS and defeat the terrorist group.
A senior White House official said Erdogan gave Trump his "word" that Turkey would finish off ISIS.
"In the call on Friday, Erdogan said to the President, 'In fact, as your friend, I give you my word in this,'" the senior White House official said.
Erdogan, for his part, described his conversation with Trump during a speech last Friday, saying he told Trump that he could clear Syria of ISIS.
"During a conversation I had with Mr. Trump -- he said 'ISIS, can you clear ISIS from this area?'" Erdogan recalled. "We did it before, and we can again as long as we have logistic support from you."
"And so they began pulling out," Erdogan added.
"Within the framework of the phone call we had with Mr. Trump, we have started preparing plans for operations to clear the ISIS elements still within Syria," he continued.
The details published Sunday follow an Associated Press report from Friday which first mentioned the phone call between Trump and Erdogan.
The AP report said Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria was made hastily, without consulting his national security team or allies, and over strong objections from virtually everyone involved in the fight against ISIS.
According to US and Turkish officials quoted in the report, Trump stunned his Cabinet, lawmakers and much of the world with the move by rejecting the advice of his top aides and agreeing to a withdrawal in the phone call with Erdogan.
Trump and Erdogan held a phone call again on Sunday where the two discussed the conflict in Syria.
In a tweet, Trump said that, in his call with Erdogan, the two “discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area. After many years they are coming home. We also discussed heavily expanded Trade."
Trump on Friday defended his decision to withdraw troops from Syria which, tweeting, “I’ve done more damage to ISIS than all recent presidents....not even close!”
On Saturday, Trump issued another tweet explaining his Syrian withdrawal strategy.
"On Syria, we were originally going to be there for three months," Trump wrote. "And that was seven years ago - we never left.”
"When I became President, ISIS was going wild. Now ISIS is largely defeated and other local countries, including Turkey, should be able to easily take care of whatever remains. We’re coming home!" he added.