Trump: U.S. was ‘cocked and loaded’ against Iran

OLIVIER DOULIERY/ABACA PRESS/TNS
President Donald Trump, left, and John Bolton, national security adviser, attend a briefing at the White House on April 9, 2018.

BY NOAH BIERMAN
LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Friday he canceled a U.S. missile strike against three Iranian targets “10 minutes before” it was set to launch because he was told the raid could have led to 150 deaths in Iran.

“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights,” Trump tweeted. “When I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General.”

The statement, confirming a report Thursday night by the New York Times, was made in a series of striking tweets that purported to outline his thinking and decisions in the standoff with Iran.

The aborted U.S. attack was planned in retaliation for the Iranian shoot-down of an unarmed U.S. Navy surveillance drone early Thursday near the Strait of Hormuz. Iran claimed the unmanned aircraft was in its airspace, while the Pentagon said it was hit over international waters.

Trump’s cancellation of the airstrike Thursday sparked second-guessing between those who feared a U.S. military attack would lead to greater conflict with Iran, and those who say Trump’s pullback makes America look weak in the face of foreign aggression.

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