U.S. President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria was sparked by an effort to calm the Turkish president, who, in an angry phone call on Sunday, expressed his frustration over not getting a sit-down with Trump last month at the United Nations General Assembly, MSNBC reported on Tuesday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was furious about the perceived insult during the phone call between the pair on Sunday and insisted on carrying out a long-planned military operation into northern Syria, MSNBC said.
The United States on Sunday announced it is stepping aside for an imminent Turkish operation against Kurdish-led forces within Syria that have been key in the U.S.’ war on the Islamic State (ISIS). The announcement followed a phone call with Erdoğan earlier that day.
Attempts by Trump to smooth things over during the call failed to prove effective and the Trump eventually threw in the towel to get Turkey’s strongman off the phone, the network reported.
“Okay, go into Syria,’’ it quoted Trump as telling Erdoğan.
There had been expectations in Turkey of a Trump-Erdoğan meeting on Syria last month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, however, the meeting failed to materialise.
The pair is set to meet on Nov. 13 in Washington, Trump said on Tuesday.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Pentagon, in a tweet message, said: ”Unfortunately, Turkey has chosen to act unilaterally. As a result we have moved the U.S. forces in northern Syria out of the path of potential Turkish incursion to ensure their safety. We have made no changes to our force presence in Syria.”