US President Donald Trump has said his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, informed him he will “eradicate whatever is left of ISIL in Syria”.
In a tweet late on Sunday, Trump said that Erdogan “is a man who can do it plus, Turkey is right ‘next door’.”
Taking to social media earlier in the day, Trump said he had spoken on the phone with Erdogan about “a slow and highly coordinated” withdrawal of US troops from Syria.
“We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, and the slow and highly coordinated pullout of US troops from the area,” Trump said in a tweet on Sunday, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. “After many years they are coming home.”
Trump said he and Erdogan also discussed “heavily expanded” trade between the US and Turkey after the two NATO allies’ relationship went into a tailspin over the summer as a result of a number of issues.
Erdogan said in a separate tweet: “I had a productive call with (Donald Trump) today, in which we agreed to strengthen our coordination on a range of issues, including our trade relations and the developments in Syria.”
Later on Sunday, a US military spokesperson told AFP news agency that the order to pull US troops out of Syria had been signed, without providing further details.
Trump’s surprise decision on Wednesday contributed to the abrupt resignation of Pentagon chief James Mattis on Thursday. Mattis cited significant policy differences with the president as a reason for quitting.
On Sunday, Trump announced Mattis would be leaving his post on January 1, two months earlier than expected.
Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria also prompted the early resignation of the US’s top envoy in the fight against ISIL, Brett McGurk, who said he would leave at the end of the year, instead of in mid-February as previously planned.