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Trump Says U.S. Forces Were "Cocked and Loaded" Before He Called Off Iran Strike

"How many people will die? 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General"

by Alex Lubben
Jun 21 2019, 3:01pm

Did President Trump just reveal national security deliberations on Twitter?

In a series of tweets around 8 a.m. Thursday morning, Trump said U.S. forces were “cocked and loaded,” ready to strike Iran in retaliation for shooting down an unmanned drone, but then they were pulled back.

According to his version of events, he stopped the attack minutes before it was going to happen, by asking a question.

“We were cocked and loaded to retailate [sic] last night on 3 different sites when I asked, how many will die,” Trump tweeted. “150 people, sir, was the answer from a General.”

That toll would’ve been too strong a retaliation, he said, for Iran’s shooting down an unmanned American drone over international waters Monday, which resulted in no deaths.

“10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” Trump tweeted.

READ more: Trump Almost Started a War with Iran Thursday Night

Trump further railed against Iran and praised himself for putting an end to President Barack Obama’s nuclear pact with Iran.

The president’s tweets came about nine hours after the planned attack on Iranian radar and missile batteries, and the decision to call it off, were leaked to reporters for the New York Times.

Whether the calling off of the attack was primarily motivated by Trump’s concern for Iranian lives has yet to be confirmed by any military agency. The Pentagon did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.

On Thursday, Iran and the U.S. traded conflicting accounts of where the U.S. drone was shot down. The Iranians claim it was shot down in their territorial waters; the U.S. countered that it was destroyed in international waters, an assessment that Trump repeated Friday morning.

Had the attack gone through, it would’ve marked Trump’s third strike against targets in the Middle East. He’s twice ordered strikes against targets in Syria.

Cover: U.S. President Donald Trump responds to a question while waiting to greet Justin Trudeau, Canada's prime minister, not pictured, at the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 20, 2019. (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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