US called off retaliatory strike against Iran in last minute: source

Trump weighs Iran response options following drone attack

The United States made a last-minute decision to call off retaliatory strikes against Iran in response to the downing Thursday of a Navy drone that Washington said was over international airspace, a source told Fox News early Friday.

But few details about the aborted mission and the circumstances that led to the reversal were available.

Multiple news outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post and Associated Press, reported similar accounts — citing unnamed sources. These reports portray a mission that would have targeted Iranian missile batteries and radars. No shots were fired and no missiles were launched, according to the AP.

The State Department did not immediately respond to an email from Fox News early Friday seeking more clarification.

The Times reported that planes were in the air and ships in position but no shots were fired.

Top White House officials met Thursday for a classified briefing that lasted over an hour about the drone and those in attendance suggested that a “measured” response is likely coming soon.

Despite earlier rhetoric, President Trump appeared to be taking a measured approach to the crisis. Rep. Adam Schiff, an outspoken Trump critic who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said the president is listening to congressional leaders who are urging caution.

Trump told reporters that Iran made a “very big mistake” but also said he had the feeling that it might have been the result of someone being “loose” or doing something “stupid,” rather than a deliberate provocation by Iran.

The Pentagon released video showing the smoke trail of a Navy drone that was shot out of the sky over the Strait of Hormuz by Iran, in what military officials described as an “unprovoked attack.”

The tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased since Trump backed out of the Obama-era nuke deal in May 2018. Iran has been under strain from U.S. sanctions after seeing its currency drop by about 60 percent in 12 months, according to EU figures. Food and drug prices are up 40 and 60 percent respectively.

Meanwhile, the  U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order on Thursday prohibiting U.S. operators from flying in an overwater area of Tehran-controlled airspace over the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman “due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the region.”

 Gregg Re, Talia Kaplan and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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