United States President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered an attack on Iran in retaliation for the downing of a surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz, but he called off the operation just hours before the forces go into action.
Sources in the administration said the president approved the strikes after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) day shot down a Navy RQ-4 drone operating off Iran's southern coast.
However, Trump later changed his mind. It was not yet clear why the president decided to cancel the operation. The news of the drone downing and the aborted operation came in the wake of the already heightened fears that the United States and Iran are on a course toward a military conflict.
Tehran and Washington gave conflicting accounts of what occurred when the massive drone crashed into the sea. While Iran said it had entered its airspace, the US military denied that assertion, characterizing the incident as an "unprovoked attack" over one of the world's most important commercial waterways.
Trump condemned the shoot-down but also appeared to tamp down speculation that a counter strike might be in the works, saying the drone may have been shot down without the knowledge of Iranian leaders.