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Pentagon confirms 34 US troops suffered traumatic brain injuries from Iran’s missile attack

US Pentagon building. (Dreamstime/TNS)
January 24, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense on Friday revised its estimate of troops injured during a series of Iranian missile strikes on U.S. bases in Iraq on Jan. 8. revealing as many as 34 U.S. troops were hospitalized with traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman revealed the new assessment of injuries from Iran’s missile attack during a press briefing.

“Thirty four total members have been diagnosed with concussions and TBI,” Hoffman said. “Eight service members who were previously transported to Germany have been transported to the United States. They will continue to receive treatment in the United States either at Walter Reed or their home bases.”

Hoffman said those eight service members arrived to the U.S. Friday morning. Of those eight returned service members, Hoffman said their treatments mostly consisted of outpatient medical support.

An additional nine service members are still undergoing evaluations and treatment at a hospital in Germany. One service member who was sent to Kuwait for treatment has returned to duty in Iraq.

Hoffman said the remaining 16 service members diagnosed with concussion and TBI symptoms remained in Iraq for treatment and were returned to active duty.

President Donald Trump, in his initial assessment of damages in the day after the attack, said the U.S. saw no casualties.

“No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime,” Trump said at the time.

Concussion-like symptoms appeared to manifest in the days following that assessment and a later report suggested 11 service members were hospitalized in the days following the attack.

“Part of the timeline on this process is a lot of these symptoms, they are late developing, they manifest over a period of time,” Hoffman said.

He said some troops that were screened for injuries saw conditions improve rapidly while others worsened over time.

Reports earlier in the week indicated the number of injured troops had risen, though it was not clear how many U.S. service members were injured until Friday.

On Wednesday 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,” Trump 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.”

Iran’s missile attack came amid a series of escalatory incidents between the U.S. and Iran which saw pro-Iranian attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. The U.S. retaliated with a strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, for which Iran responded in turn with its missile attack.

At the time of Trump’s initial reaction to the Iranian missile attack, he appeared to cite the lack of U.S. personnel injured or killed and the relatively minimal damage to U.S. bases in Iraq as an adequate reason to avoid further escalations with Iran.

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.