US President Donald Trump abruptly called off military strikes against Iran on Thursday night after previously approving the attacks in retaliation for Iran shooting down a US military drone, The New York Times reported, citing senior White House officials.
According to the Times, the operation was already underway in its initial stages – ships were in position and planes were in the air – but no missiles had been fired when the order came to stand down. The strike had been scheduled for just before dawn on Friday in Iran to minimize the risk to civilians and the Iranian military.
Trump initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, including radar and missile batteries, and the Times reports it was not clear whether Trump simply changed his mind or whether his administration switched course due to logistics or strategic considerations. It was also not clear whether the attacks may still occur.
The reports came just hours after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said it shot down an unmanned US aircraft on Thursday using a surface-to-air missile.
Tehran said the Global Hawk surveillance drone was on a spy mission over its territory, but Washington said it was shot down over international airspace near the Strait of Hormuz.
[Sources: CNN, CNBC]