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Trump reportedly signed off on attacking Iran, but plans were canceled

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President Donald Trump approved attacking Iranian targets after it downed a US drone on Wednesday, but backed out on Thursday evening, according to several senior US official cited in a New York Times report published Thursday night. ABC News confirmed the reporting.

Trump signed off on the plans after consulting with national security and congressional officials, and military leaders reportedly expected the strike to play out. The attack was nixed as late as 7:00 pm local time, The Times reported.

US officials reportedly wanted to minimize the casualties in the strike. Officials were said to have planned to strike before dawn on Friday and chose to target radar and missile batteries.

It was reportedly unclear if the strikes were called off due to the president’s change in decision, overall logistics, or if they were merely put on hold.

Read more: Trump downplays Iranian attack with bizarre, counterfactual explanation in what looks like a move to avoid war

The US strikes would have followed the downing of a US Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) drone, a surveillance aircraft with a price tag of roughly $123 million in 2015. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps shot the drone using a surface-to-air-missile on Thursday morning, an unnamed senior administration official said to The Times.

Following the shooting, Trump characterized the event as a “very big mistake” made by someone “loose and stupid.” Trump added it was difficult for him to believe the attack was “intentional.”

“I imagine it’s a general or somebody,” Trump said to reporters at the White House on Thursday.

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