*UPDATES WITH FURTHER DETAILS FROM STATEMENT
By Ilkay Guder
ANKARA (AA) - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his American counterpart Donald Trump discussed the ongoing Turkish military operation in Afrin, Syria in a phone conversation on Wednesday, the Turkish presidency said.
Erdogan and Trump exchanged views on the latest developments in Syria and Operation Olive Branch launched by Turkey on Saturday with a view to fighting off threats from PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorist organizations, according to a statement.
The phone conversation between the two leaders focused on the importance of bilateral cooperation in fighting terrorism, while Erdogan stated that the goal of the operation was to clear Afrin off terrorist elements for Turkey's national security, the statement added.
Turkey on Saturday launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council decisions, self-defense rights under the UN Charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost importance" is being given to not harm any civilians.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.
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During the phone conversation, Erdogan underlined that the military operation was in line with international law, and based on Turkey's legitimate right to defend itself under Article 51 of the UN Charter, as well as the UN Security Council resolutions regarding fight against terrorism.
Erdogan also reiterated Ankara's request from Washington to stop providing arms to the PYD/YPG terrorists in Syria.
The leaders reaffirmed their determination to continue to cooperate and be in close contact regarding developments in Syria, as well as bilateral issues.
The U.S. supports the PYD/PKK, considered by Ankara as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror organization that has waged a more than 30-year war against the Turkish state. The terror campaign has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.
American support for the terror group has long vexed Ankara as Washington views the PYD/PKK-led umbrella group, SDF, as a "reliable partner" in its fight against Daesh and continues to provide it with arms and equipment in the face of strong objections from Turkey.