In this July 11, 2018 file photo, President Donald Trump, left, talks to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as they tour the new NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. (Tatyana Zenkovich/pool photo via AP)
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President Donald Trump's declaration in a phone call with Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he was pulling U.S. troops from Syria has stunned Turkey and left it scrambling to respond to the changing battlefield on its southern border.In the phone call two weeks ago, Trump had been expected to deliver a standard warning to the Turkish president over his plan to launch a cross-border attack targeting U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, U.S. officials say.Instead, in the course of the conversation Trump reshaped U.S. policy in the Middle East, abandoning a quarter of Syrian territory and handing Ankara the job of finishing off Daesh (ISIS) in Syria.On a visit to a U.S. air base in Iraq this week, Trump said that military commanders had repeatedly requested extensions for the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria – requests that he finally turned down because he said Daesh was largely beaten.The YPG on Friday asked the Syrian government to take over the town of Manbij, which the Kurdish militia currently controls with U.S. support, to protect it from Turkish attack.The Turkish military has already carried out two incursions into north Syria, backed by pro-Turkey Syrian rebels.
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