Trump Says He Never Called Iran Airstrike 'Back': 'I Just Stopped It From Going Forward At This Time'

President Donald Trump used Twitter Saturday to take the media to task for "incorrectly reporting" the details surrounded a planned military strike on Iran earlier this week.

The attack by the U.S. military had initially been planned for Thursday evening — Friday morning in Tehran — as a response to Iran shooting down an unmanned U.S. drone. Iranian officials stated that the drone was downed because it was in the country's airspace, while the U.S. maintains that the drone was in international airspace and never crossed into Iranian borders.

"I never called the strike against Iran 'BACK,' as people are incorrectly reporting, I just stopped it from going forward at this time," Trump wrote on Twitter, alluding to reports from The New York Times, which broke the story, and other media outlets, including Newsweek, that independently confirmed the Times' information.

At the time the mission was called off, it was unclear what prompted Trump to change his mind. Pentagon officials who spoke to Newsweek said forces involved in the mission were woken up at 2 a.m. local time and as late as 3:30 a.m. (7 p.m. EDT) believed the strike would still be carried out.

According to the Times, planes were in the air and ships in position when the stand down call came.

Following media reports, Trump tweeted on Friday to explain why he elected to forgo the strike, saying that his concern had been for human lives.

"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. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not...," Trump tweeted. "....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 expressed similar comments during a Thursday press conference, saying that if the drone had been manned and an American killed in the strike, his reaction would have been dramatically different.

However, Iranian Revolutionary Guards aerospace commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that the country had resisted from shooting down a second American plane because there were 35 people on board.

"How would the Americans react if our plane flew near the shores of the United States?" Near the UAV, another American spy plane, a P-8, was also present and entered Iranian territory, but due to the fact that there were 35 people on board, we did not destroy it," Hajizadeh said, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

Trump's comments on Friday were part of a lengthier Twitter thread where the president blamed his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, for entering into a deal with Iran that gave the country $150 million. A deal which Trump said he terminated once elected to office.

"President Obama made a desperate and terrible deal with Iran - Gave them 150 Billion Dollars plus I.8 Billion Dollars in CASH! Iran was in big trouble and he bailed them out. Gave them a free path to Nuclear Weapons, and SOON. Instead of saying thank you, Iran yelled...." Trump said. "....Death to America. I terminated deal, which was not even ratified by Congress, and imposed strong sanctions. 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!"

Despite criticizing media coverage, and adding more sanctions against Iran, Trump has not ruled out military action in the future. On Thursday, Newsweek confirmed that ships involved in the aborted strike were placed on a 72-hour hold, meaning that another strike could be ordered.

Earlier Saturday, Trump announced that more sanctions will be levied against Iran on Monday and that the country should never be allowed to have nuclear weapons.

Iran has always denied that it has sought nuclear weapons, but the program was under heavy sanctions until a 2015 deal partially brokered by the Obama Administration that removed some economic sanctions in exchange for Iran subduing parts of its nuclear program.

Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office of the White House June 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. The two leaders were expected to discuss the trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Alex Wong/Getty
Trump Says He Never Called Iran Airstrike 'Back': 'I Just Stopped It From Going Forward At This Time' | News