…Erdogan, though, quickly put Trump on the defensive, reminding him that he had repeatedly said the only reason for U.S. troops to be in Syria was to defeat ISIS and that the group had been 99 per cent defeated. “Why are you still there?” the second official said Erdogan asked Trump, telling him that the Turks could deal with the remaining ISIS militants.
With Erdogan on the line, Trump asked national security adviser John Bolton, who was listening in, why American troops remained in Syria if what the Turkish president was saying was true, according to the officials. Erdogan’s point, Bolton was forced to admit, had been backed up by Mattis, Pompeo, U.S. special envoy for Syria Jim Jeffrey and special envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition Brett McGurk, who have said that ISIS retains only one per cent of its territory, the officials said.
Bolton stressed, however, that the entire national security team agreed that victory over ISIS had to be enduring, which means more than taking away its territory.
Trump was not dissuaded, according to the officials, who said the president quickly capitulated by pledging to withdraw, shocking both Bolton and Erdogan.
Reversal Of Roles
Caught off guard, Erdogan cautioned Trump against a hasty withdrawal…