Trump approves strikes on Iran, but then abruptly pulls back: report

TEHRAN, Jun. 21 (MNA) – The US President approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for the downing of an American spying drone intruding Iranian airspace, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night, according to reports.

According to New York Times, as late as 7 p.m., the US military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders.

The US officials said the 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, a senior administration official said.

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.

Earlier on Thursday, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) shot down an intruding American spy drone in the country’s southern coastal province of Hormozgan. In a statement, the IRGC said the US-made Global Hawk surveillance drone was brought down by its Air Force near the Kouh-e Mobarak region — which sits in the central district of Jask County — after the aircraft violated Iranian airspace.

According to the statement, the Global Hawk had flown from one of the American bases in the southern parts of the Persian Gulf region at 00:14 a.m. local time, with its identification transponders off in breach of all international aviation rules.

It also went on to say that the drone was in stealth mode on the route from the Strait of Hormuz towards Iran’s port city of Chabahar.

The RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) can fly at high altitudes for more than 30 hours, gathering near-real-time, high-resolution imagery of large areas of land in all types of weather, maker Northrop Grumman says on its website.

Reacting to the incident, the US military first denied it, but hours later confirmed that one of its drones had been shot, claiming that the incident took place in international airspace.

On Thursday night, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said Iran will take the case on US drone intrusion to UN and show that the US is lying about international waters.

“The US wages Economic Terrorism on Iran, has conducted covert action against us & now encroaches on our territory,” wrote Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a tweet.

Zarif went on to stress that “We don't seek war, but will zealously defend our skies, land & waters.” He also added that Iran has retrieved the drone debris in its own territorial waters. 

HJ/

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