Over 100 service members were diagnosed with brain injuries stemming from Iran’s missile attack on a base in Iraq last month. The US troops did not face any immediate bodily injuries nor were the troops killed in the attack. There has been a more than 50% jump in these cases, the US military revealed on Monday. Iran fired missiles at the Ain al- Assad base in Iraq in retaliation to the killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani by the US in a drone strike at the Baghdad airport on January 3.
So far 109 US service members have been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury and 76 of them have returned to duty, the Pentagon said in a statement. However, the increasing number of US casualties could bring the Trump administration’s approach towards Iran into question. The missile attacks by Iran were a cap on the escalating violence that started in last December but since then both the sides have refrained from further violence.
Symptoms include concussive injuries include headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light and nausea. The US military has mentioned in the past that these symptoms can often take time to manifest and hence only appear in the weeks following the attack. Moreover, troops also sometimes take longer to report them. Pentagon officials have repeatedly said there has been no effort to minimise or delay information on concussive injuries. However, the mounting numbers are raising questions regarding the US military’s policy on treating Brain injuries with the same amount of urgency as losses limb or life. “I’ve called on the Pentagon to ensure the safety & care of our deployed forces who may be exposed to blast injuries in Iraq,” U.S. Republican Senator Joni Ernst said on Twitter.
US President Donald Trump appeared to play down the brain injuries last month, saying he “heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things” following the attack, prompting criticism from lawmakers and a US veterans group. Since 2000, about 408,000 service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, according to Pentagon data.