Pentagon: 34 soldiers diagnosed with brain injury after Iran missile attacks

Supporters of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al Sadr hold a sign reading

Supporters of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al Sadr hold a sign reading"Our problems are all from America and Israel at a protest against what they say is U.S. presence and violations in Iraq in Baghdad

The United States says 34 of its soldiers have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries following this month's Iranian missile attack on a military base in Iraq.

A Pentagon spokesman told reporters that 17 service members diagnosed had already returned to duty in Iraq.

Last week the U.S. military said 11 military personnel had been treated for concussion symptoms after the attack on the Ain al-Asad air base in western Iraq, before adding this week that additional troops had been moved out of the country for potential injuries.

The U.S. had no missile defence systems protecting Ain al-Asad from potential missile attack.

But the new reporting represents a reversal for the administration, which initially said no Americans had been hurt in the attack. But on January 17, the Pentagon revealed that 11 service members were treated for concussion symptoms in the days following the attack.

Friday's comments from Pentagon officials confirm that the actual number was much higher.

Trump visited the sprawling airbase in December 2018, his first presidential visit to troops in the region.

January 22: Trump, speaking to reporters in Davos, Switzerland, calls possible traumatic brain injuries sustained by USA troops in Iranian ballistic missile attack "headaches" that are "not very serious", prompting anger from veterans groups. Maj. "We wish all these members well and we are dedicated to ensuring they have the support and treatment they need for a full recovery".

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"No Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime", Trump declared at the White House hours after the Iranian attack.

Many US personnel were in bunkers before almost a dozen Iranian missiles exploded.

"It's plain wrong for President Trump to diminish their wounds", Reed, who served as an officer in the 82nd Airborne Division, said in a statement Friday.

He called Trump's equating TBI to a headache "shocking and disrespectful".

Of the 34 service members who were told they have traumatic brain injuries, 17 were flown by medical evacuation aircraft to Germany. "He owes them an apology".

The missile attacks were in retaliation to the USA assassination of IRGC Quds Force chief Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on January 3 near the Baghdad global airport.

The service member sent to Kuwait returned to duty in Iraq.

Mark Esper directed Matt Donovan, who is now performing the duties of the Defense Department's under secretary for personnel and readiness, to work with the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review the Pentagon's processes for tracking and reporting injuries of all kinds. Since Soleimani's killing, these groups have joined Iran in calling for a withdrawal of USA troops from the Middle East, but the Trump administration has only shored up its military presence across the region.

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