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More troops, now 50, were injured in Iran missile attack on US bases

A U.S. Army Soldier from 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Task Force-Iraq, mans an observation post at Forward Operating Base Union III, Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 31, 2019. (U.S. Army Photo by Maj. Charlie Dietz, Task Force-Iraq Public Affairs)
January 29, 2020

The number of troops injured in Iran’s missile strikes against two US bases earlier this month has risen to 50, according to a new report.

“As of today, 50 U.S. service members have been diagnosed with TBI,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col Thomas Campbell said in a statement provided to CNN on Tuesday night.

The latest number represents an additional 16 injuries since the last injury report of 34.

“Of these 50, 31 total service members were treated in Iraq and returned to duty, including 15 of the additional service members who have been diagnosed since the previous report,” Campbell said. “18 service members have been transported to Germany for further evaluation and treatment.”

No casualties had initially been reported in the Jan. 8, missile attack that targeted U.S. bases in Iraq, but many U.S. service members began to experience symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the days after the attack.

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Sources at the Pentagon told CNN that the number of injuries will likely continue to rise. An estimated 200 service members were near the blast zone from the missile strikes and have been subsequently screened for symptoms.

Iran’s missile attack came amid a series of escalatory moves with the U.S. which saw a pro-Iranian attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, followed days later by a U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The Jan. 8 missile attack was launched as an Iranian retaliation for the killing of Soleimani.

At the time of his first damage assessment, President Donald Trump reported no injuries as a result of the missile attack.

The number eventually rose to 11, and last week it rose again to 34.

“Part of the timeline on this process is a lot of these symptoms, they are late developing, they manifest over a period of time,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said when he revealed the number of injured service members had reached 34.

Hoffman highlighted some of the unpredictability with late reported symptoms and said that after some U.S. service members were screened their symptoms appeared to improve, while others saw their cases worsen over the days that followed.

When pressed for comment on news of the injuries last week, Trump described the injuries as headaches and “not serious.”

“I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I’ve seen,” he said at the time. “I’ve seen what Iran has done with their roadside bombs to our troops. I’ve seen people with no legs and with no arms. I’ve seen people that were horribly, horribly injured in that area, that war.”

At the time of Trump’s initial reaction to the Iranian missile attack, he indicated that further response to Iran was not necessary due to the minimal damage from the missile attacks.

The U.S. has not carried out further retaliatory military responses to Iran but has added new economic sanctions against military officials in the country, in response to the missile strikes.