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Trump calls off Iran strikes at the last minute

After weeks of rising tension amid a spate of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf, Iran said on Thursday it had shot down an unmanned U.S. military surveillance drone, fanning fears of an overt military confrontation between the longtime adversaries.

U.S. President Donald Trump approved military strikes against Iran on Friday in retaliation for the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, but called off the attacks at the last minute, the New York Times reported.

As Tramp reported, U.S. warplanes took to the air and ships were put in position for a retaliatory attack only for an order to come to stand down, without any weapons being fired.

Targets had included Iranian radar and missile batteries, the paper cited senior administration officials involved in, or briefed on, the deliberations.

Tehran said the unarmed Global Hawk surveillance drone was on a spy mission over its territory, but Washington said it was shot down over international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz.

Trump said the downing of the drone initially could have been carried out by someone who was acting "loose and stupid," adding he suspected it was shot down by mistake.

"We had nobody in the drone. It would have made a big difference, let me tell you, it would have made a big, big difference" if the aircraft had been piloted, Trump said as he met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office.

The Trump administration is pursuing a campaign to isolate Iran and press it towards concessions on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and its role in regional conflicts.