North Atlantic Treaty Organisation apologizes after Turkish leader listed as enemy during military drill

Lavrov: Putin-Erdogan-Rouhani meeting to encourage Damascus-opposition talks

Norway's defense minister on Friday apologized to Turkey after a civilian Norwegian official depicted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as an "enemy collaborator" during a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation drill in the Scandinavian country.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the incident had made himself and Ataturk targets' although he did not elaborate.

This was confirmed by a Turkish force personnel who attended the Trident Javelin drill held in Norway from November 8-17.

"They told me that they are withdrawing our 40 soldiers from there [Norway]", Erdoğan said.

A North Atlantic Treaty Organisation official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Xinhua that two separate incidents occurred on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

Local Turkish media speculated that Erdogan was indicating that images of Ataturk and Erdogan had been used for target practice in the exercise.

Ankara views the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long insurgency in Turkey and is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

Western allies have been particularly troubled by a deal for Ankara to purchase an S-400 air defence system from Russian Federation.

After Erdogan's remarks, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg apologized to Turkey over the two incidents. I apologize for the offense.

The civilian Norwegian official was removed from the exercise by JWC following the incident and a thorough investigation was underway, the statement said.

He said the incident was the result of an "individual's actions" and did not reflect the views of the alliance.

The individual who posted the material was described as a Norwegian civil contractor seconded by Norway, and not a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation employee. "It will be for the Norwegian authorities to decide on any disciplinary action", he also said. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has been in contact with the Norwegian authorities on this issue.

The NATO chief stressed that Turkey is a "valued NATO Ally, which makes important contributions to security".

Polish Maj. Gen. Andrzej Reudowicz, the commander of the Joint Warfare Center (JWC) in Stavanger, Norway where the exercise took place, has also issued a letter of apology over the incidents, according to the anonymous North Atlantic Treaty Organisation official.

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