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Trump: Planes never took off for Iran strike

by Harvest Prude
Posted 6/21/19, 01:47 pm

UPDATE: WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump clarified Friday that he had not given final approval for a planned retaliatory military strike against Iran a day earlier and that no U.S. military planes had taken off when he canceled it. When asked during an interview for NBC News’ Meet the Press whether planes were in the air for the strike Thursday, the president said, “No, but they would have been pretty soon, and things would have happened to a point where you would not turn back.”

Trump said that before he issued the final call, he asked his generals how many casualties might result. They responded that about 150 people would be killed. “I thought about it for a second and I said, you know what, they shot down an unmanned drone, plane ... and here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after I said go ahead,” the president said. “I didn’t like it. … I didn’t think it was proportionate.”

OUR EARLIER REPORT (11:52 a.m.): President Donald Trump acknowledged Friday that the United States was “cocked and loaded” to strike Iran on Thursday but he canceled the attack after being told as many as 150 people could die. News outlets reported Thursday that the president approved military strikes against Iran and planes were in the air and ships in position when he called it off shortly before deployment. Trump tweeted that he canceled the attack “10 minutes before the strike” because the action was “not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

The president said his administration would never allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon, but he is not in a rush to respond to the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday. On Friday, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, claimed Iran refrained from targeting a manned U.S. plane with around 35 crew members that was near the drone. “We could have targeted that plane, it was our right to do so, and yes it was American, but we didn’t do it,” he said at a news conference in Tehran. U.S. officials have contested the claim that the drone was in Iranian airspace but have not responded to the claim that another aircraft was nearby.

The European Union urged both countries to de-escalate tensions. A Roman Catholic cardinal echoed the sentiment Friday. “On our knees, let’s pray USA & IRAN do not unsheathe the weapons of war!” Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson tweeted. “Let nations cultivate political friendship and not mutual demonization. The former builds peace, the latter kills it.”

Major international airlines announced Friday they are rerouting flights around the Strait of Hormuz area following a safety warning from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

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Harvest Prude

Harvest is a political reporter for WORLD's Washington Bureau. She is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate. Harvest resides in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter @HarvestPrude.

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