The Pentagon said Thursday that 34 US service members were diagnosed with varying degrees of brain injuries after the Iranian ballistic missile attack in Iraq this month, upping the number of service members understood to be injured by explosions.
The issue has proven controversial because President Trump said the morning after that no US troops were harmed in the Jan. 8 attack, launched in retaliation for the United States killing Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad. Defense officials have said the injury information was not relayed to Washington until after the fact because no service members suffered loss of life, limb, or eyesight.
The Pentagon’s chief spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, told reporters during a news conference that the service members were diagnosed with ‘‘concussions and TBI,’’ an abbreviation for traumatic brain injury.
Eight service members who had been removed from Iraq for additional treatment at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany returned to the United States Thursday for more medical care, while nine other service members remain in Germany, Hoffman said. The remaining 17 who were diagnosed with concussions, a mild form of TBI, have been returned to duty, he said.
The care was needed after 11 ballistic missiles left wreckage and deep craters at al-Asad air base, where more than 1,000 US service members were based along with Iraqi forces. Another missile landed outside Irbil, but without the same destruction.