President Donald Trump wrote Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan an extraordinary letter warning him not to be "a tough guy" or "a fool" as his forces launched their attack on northern Syria, a White House official confirmed to NBC News.
"Dear Mr. President," the Oct. 9 letter began, "Let's work out a good deal! 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 then referred to economic sanctions his administration used on the country to push for the release of an American pastor who'd been locked up in Turkey, calling it "a little sample" of what could be in store.
"I have worked hard to solve some of your problems. Don't let the world down. You can make a great deal," Trump wrote, asserting that the commander of the Kurdish forces is "willing to negotiate with you."
"History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way," Trump wrote to Erdogan. "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!"
"I will call you later," the letter concludes. It's signed, "Sincerely, Donald Trump."
The letter was first reported by Fox Business Network, and the White House official confirmed its contents.
It was written the same day that the Turkish military began attacking Kurdish forces that had been allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS terrorists. That assault was launched after Trump told Erdogan he'd pull American forces who'd been protecting the Kurds out of the area, a decision that was immediately met with bipartisan condemnation.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan through the years
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan through the years
Rafah leader R. Tayyip Erdogan speaks with activists. (Photo by Antoine GYORI/Sygma via Getty Images)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Istanbul mayor). (Photo by SIDALI-DJENIDI/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Former prime pinister and leader of the Islamic Welfare Party Necmettin Erbakan, left, addresses supporters accompanied by Mayor of Istanbul Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, and former defense minister Sevket Kazan, right, during a fast-breaking dinner during the holy month of Ramadan in Istanbul Sunday, Jan. 18, 1998. The Constitutional Court decided on Friday to close Welfare Party for violating the constitution's secular principles. The court also placed a political ban on Erbakan, 71, who had headed the Islamic movement for nearly three decades. (AP Photo/Murad Sezer)
Mayor of Istanbul Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, waves at his supporters with Mayor of Ankara Melih Gokcek, left, and Virtue Party member Ismail Kahraman, right, in Istanbul, Wednesday, April 22, 1998. Istanbul's pro-Islamic mayor denied that he had been trying to ferment discord, a day after learning that he had been sentenced to prison for inciting religious hatred. Recep Tayyip Erdogan is considered as the likely upcoming leader of the Islamic Virtue Party, but if convicted, cannot hold any official possisions. (AP Photo/Murad Sezer)
German opposition Christian Democrats' chairwoman Angela Merkel, right, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan address a news conference after their official talks in Berlin on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2003. (AP Photo/Jan Bauer)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, speaks privately to Prof. Mehmet Aydin, Turkey's Minister of Religious Affairs, at a press conference at the United Nations in New York, Monday, Dec. 18, 2006. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki shake hands before their talks in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008. Maliki is in Turkey for talks on fighting Kurdish rebels and boosting bilateral relations.(AP Photo/Umit Bektas, Pool)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures at Kosovo residents gathered to welcome his visit in the town of Prizren on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Erdogan said Turkey was one of the first countries recognizing Kosovo after the country declared its independence on Feb. 17, 2008, "this is the first visit to Kosovo in prime ministerial level from Turkey," he added. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
FILE - In this Friday, May 16, 2008, file photo Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, left, with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, 2nd right, and his wife Emine Erdogan, second left, and Turkish soccer star Hakan Sukur, right, during a garden party at the British Embassy in Ankara. Turkey's state-run news agency reports Friday, Aug. 12, 2016 authorities have issued an arrest warrant for former soccer star and legislator Hakan Sukur over his alleged links to a U.S.-based Muslim cleric who is accused by Turkey of masterminding last month's failed coup. (AP Photo/Firat Yurdakul, Pool, File)
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hands out presents following his speech at a local municipality event in Istanbul, Saturday, May 16, 2015. Erdogan has criticized Egypt for sentencing ousted President Mohammed Morsi to death, saying the country was returning to the "old Egypt" by rolling back democracy. On Saturday, an Egyptian court sentenced Morsi to death over his part in a mass prison break that took place during the 2011 uprising that toppled Egypt's long-time leader Hosni Mubarak. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis}
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, receives a copy of the Holy Quran, Islam's holy book, at an international students meeting in Istanbul, Saturday, May 16, 2015. Erdogan has criticized Egypt for sentencing ousted President Mohammed Morsi to death, saying the country was returning to the "old Egypt" by rolling back democracy. On Saturday, an Egyptian court sentenced Morsi to death over his part in a mass prison break that took place during the 2011 uprising that toppled Egypt's long-time leader Hosni Mubarak. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he addresses the members of his ruling Justice and Development Party in Istanbul, late Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. Erdogan is trying to bring Turkey's relations with European nations back on track following a stormy 2017 that saw the Turkish leader quarrel with European leaders and accuse them of Nazi-like behavior.(Yasin Bulbul/Pool Photo via AP)
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Trump insisted to reporters at a joint press conference with Italy's president on Wednesday that he had not given Turkey a "green light" to attack, but a statement issued by the White House on Oct. 6 — three days before Trump wrote the Turkish leader — made clear the U.S. was getting out of the way.
"Today, President Donald J. Trump spoke with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey by telephone. Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria," the White House statement said. "The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial 'Caliphate,' will no longer be in the immediate area."