Pentagon Now Says 50 U.S. Troops Sustained Brain Injuries in Iran Strike


The Pentagon on Tuesday said that 50 American service members sustained brain injuries from Iranian airstrikes on Al Asad Air Base in Iraq this month, 16 more than it had acknowledged last week.

Of the 50 troops affected, 31 were treated in Iraq and returned to duty, “including 15 of the additional service members,” Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

“As stated previously, this is a snap shot in time and numbers can change,” Colonel Campbell said. “We will continue to provide updates as they become available.”

The Defense Department said on Friday that 34 American service members had traumatic brain injuries as a result of the Jan. 8 attack. In the hours after the strike, President Trump said that no Americans had been hurt.

The number of American troops taken to Germany for further evaluation and treatment also increased, to 18 from 17, according to the Pentagon’s statement Tuesday.

One service member who was taken to Kuwait has since returned to duty, Colonel Campbell said.

Brain injuries are not always immediately apparent, officials have said, noting that delays in reporting the injuries can also be caused by the time it takes for information to work its way to leaders in Washington.

The rising number of injuries undercuts Mr. Trump’s initial statements hours after the strike, in which he said that no Americans were hurt.

“I’m pleased to inform you the American people should be extremely grateful and happy,” the president said in a speech on Jan. 9. “No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime.”

After the Pentagon said that American troops were showing signs of concussions after the Iranian missile strikes, Mr. Trump on Jan. 22 disregarded the symptoms as “not very serious,” drawing criticism from veterans’ groups.

“I heard they had headaches,” Mr. Trump said at a news conference in Davos, Switzerland. “No, I don’t consider them very serious injuries, relative to other injuries that I’ve seen.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

At least a dozen missiles were fired during the attack, which was a retaliation for the killing of a top Iranian general, Qassim Suleimani, by an American drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3.

Helene Cooper contributed reporting.


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