WASHINGTON, June 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump Friday confirmed that he authorized the military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing a U.S. military drone but called off the operations 10 minutes before they were to be implemented.
"We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights," Trump said in a series of tweets, adding that he called off the strikes 10 minutes before the operations started due to the possible casualties.
Trump noted that a general told him the impending strikes would cause 150 casualties, which he believed "not proportionate" to the loss of a U.S. unmanned aircraft.
Citing multiple senior administration officials, the New York Times revealed late Thursday that Trump had initially approved attacks on several Iranian targets, such as radar and missile batteries, but he changed his mind at the last moment.
The U.S. military confirmed on Thursday that a RQ-4 Global Hawk Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system at approximately 2335 GMT on Wednesday. Iran, however, claimed the drone downed in the southern part of the country had crossed Iranian borders.
"Iran made a very bad mistake," Trump told reporters later in the day, adding that the shootdown of the drone was "a new wrinkle" that the United States would not tolerate.
This incident further inflamed the ongoing tensions between Washington and Tehran, which have been on the rise since Washington decided to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and resume "maximum" sanctions against Tehran.