New details have emerged related to a phone call between President Trump and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday over the US planned Syria troop pullout, which Turkish presidential office sources say Trump reaffirmed his commitment to carrying out. Unknown up to this point was a segment of the conversation reportedly focused on the devastating ISIS suicide attack on an American patrol deep inside Manbij in northern Syria last Wednesday, which killed four Americans and 15 others.
Turkish sources say President Trump agreed with Erdogan's assessment that the rare Jan. 16 attack was a "provocation" carried out in order to influence Trump's Syria pullout decision.
According to a senor Turkish official with knowledge of the call, Trump said, “I won’t back down. I’m decisive, we will pull out” — in spite of Congressional hawks and media pundits immediately seizing on the tragic terror attack to argue US forces must stay in Syria indefinitely.
Though the US side has not confirmed the Turkish statements, an explosive report in Middle East Eye suggests Trump is fully aware that both the timing and location of the terror attack appear designed to ratchet up pressure on the White House to reverse its prior troop draw down order, leaving the door wide open for yet another endless American quagmire in the Middle East, and allow for remnant ISIS cells to mount an insurgency on the some 2,000+ US forces there.
According to the Middle East Eye report:
US President Donald Trump told his Turkish counterpart on Sunday that the United States wasn’t going to reverse its decision to withdraw militarily from Syria, even after an attack in the city of Manbij last week claimed the lives of four US servicemen, five local fighters, and 10 civilians.
According to a senior Turkish official, who spoke to Middle East Eye on condition of anonymity due to government protocol, Trump said that he agreed with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s assessment that the attack was a provocation that aimed to influence the pullout decision.
Though Turkey has been notorious in spinning and imposing its own wishful version of events related to US actions and intentions in Syria, US official sources have confirmed Erdogan attempted to convince Trump the "provocation" was essentially a trap into which he must not fall.
Days after the ISIS bombing, we noted the incredible and almost too hard to believe "fortuitous" timing of the attack on a restaurant that was well-known as a place frequented by US personnel just as the Pentagon was readying for Trump's ordered "full" pullout:
If ISIS is indeed responsible for the bombing, as war pundits are unquestioningly asserting is the case, then they’re either really, really stupid or they really want US troops to remain in Syria. Or perhaps the attack was engineered by someone else who has a vested interest in keeping a US military presence in Syria, either using ISIS as a patsy or completely separate from ISIS. Wouldn’t be the first time a suspicious attack took place in Syria while the Trump administration was working to withdraw troops.
As for Sunday's phone call, the White House for its part has only confirmed two presidents "agreed to continue to pursue a negotiated solution for northeast Syria that achieves our respective security concerns." During the call Erdogan reportedly conveyed to Trump that Turkish forces stand ready to immediately take over security in Manbij and that Turkey agrees to take action to clear ISIS remnants out of Syria and prevent their return.
Currently there's a diplomatic stalemate of sorts enduring as American officials contemplate what's next as the Pentagon on the one hand attempts to protect US-backed SDF forces from Turkish invasion, and on the other seeks to appease NATO ally Turkey and while preventing a Turkey-Russia-Damascus deal that could end any US leverage in Syria.