A US official says the military made preparations Thursday night for limited strikes on Iran in retaliation for the downing of a US surveillance drone, but approval was abruptly withdrawn before the attacks were launched. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the operation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, tells the AP that the targets would have included radars and missile batteries. The New York Times, citing anonymous senior administration officials, reports that President Trump approved the strikes but then called them off. The White House on Thursday night declined requests for information about whether Trump changed his mind.
According to the official who spoke to the AP, the strikes were recommended by the Pentagon and were among the options presented to senior administration officials. It was unclear how far the preparations had gone, but no shots were fired or missiles launched. The military operation was called off around 7:30pm Washington time, after Trump had spent most of Thursday discussing Iran strategy with top national security advisers and congressional leaders, the official says. Asked earlier in the day about a US response to the attack, Trump said, "You'll soon find out." Trump declared that "Iran made a very big mistake" by shooting down the drone over the Strait of Hormuz. But he also suggested that shooting down the drone was a foolish error rather than an intentional escalation of the tensions that have led to rising fears of open military conflict.
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