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Trump will welcome Turkey's president to White House just weeks after Syria offensive

Trump lifts Turkey sanctions, Russia calls shots

Washington — President Trump will welcome Turkey's authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to the White House next Wednesday, just weeks after Turkey launched an assault in northern Syria against the Kurds, staunch U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS.

Mr. Trump said he spoke to Erdogan by phone on Wednesday afternoon and confirmed his visit for November 13 — the same day the House Intelligence Committee will hold the first public hearings of the impeachment inquiry. The Turkish government also confirmed the date of the visit.

"Just had a very good call with President @RTErdogan of Turkey. He informed me that they have captured numerous ISIS fighters that were reported to have escaped during the conflict - including a wife and sister of terrorist killer al Baghdadi....," the president tweeted. "....Also talked about their Border with Syria, the eradication of terrorism, the ending of hostilities with the Kurds, and many other topics. Look forward to seeing President Erdogan next Wednesday, November 13th at the @WhiteHouse!"

Trump US Turkey
President Trump shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Susan Walsh / AP

Erdogan announced on Wednesday that Turkey had captured one of the wives of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder and leader of ISIS who blew himself up during a U.S. raid on a fortified compound in Syria on October 26. Erdogan made the announcement in a speech in Ankara but provided no other details.

"We caught his wife, but we didn't make a fuss about it. I am announcing this today for the first time," Erdogan said, according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Trump came under withering criticism by members of both parties for his decision in early October to pull U.S. troops from northern Syria, where they had fought alongside Syrian Kurds to defeat ISIS. The Turks and Kurds have been bitter rivals for decades — Turkey considers them terrorists working to establish their own state.

The U.S. withdrawal forced the Syrian Kurds to turn to Russia in the face of the Turkish onslaught. After the U.S. brokered a temporary ceasefire, Russia and Turkey struck a deal to establish a 20-mile "safe zone" with no Kurdish forces along the Syrian border. Erdogan said this week that Kurdish forces still remain in the safe zone as Russian and Turkish forces begin joint patrols along the border.

Christina Ruffini and Ben Tracy contributed reporting to this story.

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