Some 34 US troops were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury following the Iranian strikes on two US bases earlier this month, the Pentagon has said, despite the administration’s prior claims the injuries were “not serious.”
Eight US soldiers previously airlifted to Germany have been removed to the US for further treatment, the Pentagon acknowledged in a press conference on Friday. Nine more remain in Germany, where they are being evaluated and treated. Another is back in Iraq after being sent to Kuwait for evaluation, and 16 are back on duty in Iraq following their diagnosis.
The Trump administration initially reported that the January 8 Iranian missile strikes on two coalition bases in Iraq had not resulted in any American casualties. Later, it emerged that “several” were being treated for concussion symptoms, a number that eventually climbed to 11 who were sent out of the country for evaluation.
President Donald Trump has consistently minimized the injuries, stating earlier this week that he had “heard [the injured soldiers] had headaches” but insisting “it is not very serious…relative to other injuries I have seen.”
Tehran carried out precision strikes on the Al-Asad and Erbil coalition bases in retaliation for the Trump administration’s assassination of Commander General Qassem Soleimani by airstrike at Baghdad airport. While damage to the base infrastructure was extensive, there were no human casualties. While Trump credited the bases’ early-warning missile detection systems for the troops’ ability to flee to safety before impact, Iraq was tipped off to the incoming missiles by Iran and shared the information with the US.
Despite an Iraqi Parliament vote earlier this month that called for all foreign troops to leave the country, the US military has insisted on staying, even while the Trump administration has paid lip service to the notion of Iraqi sovereignty. A massive protest against what has once more officially become occupation by the US flooded the streets on Friday, with demonstrators demanding Washington withdraw at once or face dire consequences. The killing of Soleimani largely united the Iraqi populace with Iran against the Americans.