Photo: Mark Wilson / Staff/Getty Images

President Trump authorized military action against Iran for shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone on Thursday, but then abruptly pulled the plug on the operation as it was already underway on Thursday night, the New York Times reports, citing several senior administration officials.

Why it matters: This is the latest in a series of escalating tensions between the two nations amid the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign. Last week, the administration accused Iran of attacking oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, a key international waterway.

Details: It is unclear why the president called off the strike, per the Times. It is also unclear whether Trump may order a strike in the future.

The backdrop: Earlier Thursday, Trump told reporters he thought the drone attack was a "mistake," and said he thought it may have been carried out by someone who "was loose and stupid."

  • Meanwhile, the Pentagon characterized the downing of the drone as "dangerous and escalatory," and claimed it was "an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset that had not violated Iranian airspace."
  • The strike would have been Trump's third military action against targets in the Middle East. The administration has previously carried out two strikes against targets in Syria.

Neither the White House nor the Pentagon responded to the Times' request for comment, and "no government officials asked The New York Times to withhold the article," per the Times.

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