President Donald Trump said that he called off a U.S. strike on several Iranian sites 10 minutes before it was to be conducted due to concerns over the death toll.
Following Iran's attack on an unmanned U.S. drone in the region, the most direct attack yet on American interests, Trump had several options for a military retaliation. Trump initially committed to responding in such a manner, but called off the attack minutes before.
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"We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General," Trump tweeted in his customary fashion. "10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone."
"I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!" Trump wrote on the social networking site.
Meanwhile, Iranian leaders were quick to admit responsibility for the attack and said their military forces could have shot down a U.S. aircraft with 35 people aboard.
Trump defended his decision to pull the United States out of the landmark nuclear deal, which has led to tough new sanctions on Tehran that have mostly decimated the Islamic Republic's economy. Iran has been working with European nations to skirt the U.S. sanctions and has threatened multiple times to blow past international caps on its enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon.
Iran also has launched a series of attacks in the Persian Gulf around critical shipping lanes. These strikes failed to prompt a U.S. response and is said to have emboldened Iran to the point of attacking the U.S. drone.
"I terminated deal, which was not even ratified by Congress, and imposed strong sanctions," Trump said in his series of tweets on the situation. "They are a much weakened nation today than at the beginning of my Presidency, when they were causing major problems throughout the Middle East. Now they are Bust!"
Iranian leaders have called the strike a direct message to the United States and Trump.
"We intended to send a message to American terrorists in the region," Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' Aerospace Force, said on Friday in comments carried in Iran's state-controlled press.
Iranian forces also tracked a U.S. P8 aircraft with at least 35 people on board, according to the military leader, who said Iran could have destroyed the craft while it was in Iranian airspace.
"Along with the American drone was an American P8 aircraft with 35 on board, and it was also violating our airspace and we could have downed it too," the IRGC leader said. "But we did not [shoot it down], because our aim was to warn the terrorist forces of the U.S."