WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump warned Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a letter about Turkey's incursion into Syria, "Don't be a tough guy" and "Don't be a fool!"
The Oct. 9 letter was released by the White House on Wednesday as Trump battled to control the political damage following his decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria, clearing the way for the Turkish incursion against America's Kurdish allies.
The letter tried to persuade Erdogan to reverse a decision to invade Syria that Erdogan told Trump about in an Oct 6 phone call.
"Let's work out a good deal!" Trump said. "You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy - and I will."
Trump had the letter released to bolster his view that he did not give Turkey a green light to invade Syria. Many lawmakers have been sharply critical of his decision to remove American forces from the conflict zone.
"I have worked hard to solve some of your problems. Don't let the world down. You can make a great deal," said Trump in the letter.
The president wrote that the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, General Mazloum Kobani Abdi, was willing to negotiate and to make some concessions.
He said he had confidentially enclosed to Erdogan a copy of a letter Mazloum had sent him.
"History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen. Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!" said Trump.
He added: "I will call you later." (Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman)