President Trump approved military strikes against Iran before dawn Friday but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night, the New York Times reports.
The paper cited military and diplomatic officials as saying that the US president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.
“The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off,” the Times said, citing what it called a senior administration official.
“Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down,” the official said.
The source said that US forces were woken up around 2 am local time “within the hour” of striking, then nothing happened. Plans to attack were said to have still been on by 6:30, even 7 pm EDT.
A Pentagon official told Newsweek that among the US’ designated targets was the S-125 Neva/Pechora surface-to-air missile system and a Soviet system known to the NATO Western military alliance as SA-3 Goa.
The US military claims this weapon was used by the IRGC to down the Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk drone. However, Iran has officially stated that it used the domestically produced 3rd Khordad transporter erector launcher and radar, a variant of the locally-made Raad surface-to-air missile system.
Trump initially issued a series of cataclysmic threats, insisting that the RQ-4 Global Hawk was flying over international waters when it was taken down by an Iranian missile.
However, the GPS coordinates released by Iran put the drone eight miles off the country’s coast, inside the 12 nautical miles from the shore, which is Iran’s territorial waters