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Canada Defence Minister Sajjan apologizes for claiming he was architect of Operation Medusa

Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan inspects a tri-services guard of honour upon his arrival at the Indian Defence ministry in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Singh is in India on a seven-day visit. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

The Associated Press

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan offered a full apology to his former comrades-in-arms on Saturday for claiming to have been the "architect" of Canada's largest battle in Afghanistan.

The mea culpa followed what some had seen as a half-hearted apology by Sajjan for comments he made during a speech in India earlier this month.

"On my first deployment to Kandahar in 2006, I was kind of thrown in an unforeseen situation and became the architect of an operation called Operation Medusa, where we removed about 1,500 fighters, Taliban fighters, off the battlefield," Sajjan said during his April 18 speech in Delhi.

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Those comments, which were not improvised but planned, according to a copy of Sajjan's prepared remarks for the event, sparked grumblings among some Afghan veterans.

They noted that Operation Medusa was actually planned and executed by then-major-general David Fraser, who at the time was responsible for all NATO forces in southern Afghanistan — a fact Sajjan has since been acknowledged.

Sajjan was a major with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan during Operation Medusa, which is a much lower rank.

The minister expressed "regret" for overstating his role after video of his speech emerged this week, but went farther in a Facebook post on Saturday.

"I made a mistake in describing my role. I wish to retract that description and apologize for it. I am truly sorry," he wrote.

"While I am proud of the role I played during my deployments to Afghanistan, my comments were in no way intended to diminish the roles of my former superiors and fellow soldiers. To them I offer my sincere apologies."

Sajjan is nonetheless expected to face pointed questions about his comments when members of Parliament return from a two-week break on Monday.

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The opposition Conservatives have latched onto the issue, saying they plan to raise questions about Sajjan's credibility and character.

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