Trump listens to questions during a meeting with Canada's PM Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on Thursday. Jonathan Ernst/ Reuters
US President Donald Trump approved military strikes on Friday against Iran in retaliation for the downing of an unmanned $130-million surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching the attacks, the New York Times said.
Trump had initially approved strikes on a handful of targets such as radar and missile batteries, the paper cited senior administration officials involved in, or briefed on, the deliberations, as saying.
The strikes were set to take place just before dawn on Friday to minimize risk to the Iranian military or to civilians, it added.
Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles fired, when the order to stand down came, it cited one senior administration official as saying.
The abrupt reversal put a halt to what would have been Trump’s third military action against targets in the Middle East, the paper added, saying Trump had struck twice at targets in Syria, in 2017 and 2018.
However, it is not clear whether attacks on Iran might still go forward, the paper said, adding that it was not known if the cancellation of strikes had resulted from Trump changing his mind or administration concerns regarding logistics or strategy.
“Now we hear chatter of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq,” he added, before offering “some friendly health advice to Iran: if one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over,” he said.
On a day trip scheduled after Iran shot down a US drone, Pompeo flew into the Red Sea city of Jeddah and met with King Salman at his palace.
President Donald Trump has blamed Iran for attacks on oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, but he also held out hope that implicit US threats to use force will yield talks with the Islamic Republic as the Pentagon
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