Pentagon: 109 US Troops Diagnosed With Mild Brain Injuries After Iran Attack

February 10, 2020 Updated: February 10, 2020
FONT BFONT SText size

The U.S. Department of Defense announced 109 U.S. service members suffered mild traumatic brain injuries when Iran fired a barrage of missiles at two airbases in Iraq last month.

The Pentagon said in a statement that 45 new cases had been confirmed since the agency issued its previous report about a week ago.

Of the 109 service members who suffered mild traumatic brain injuries, also known as mTBI, 76 have returned to duty, according to the statement. Seventy-five of those service members were treated in Iraq, and one was treated in Germany.

Twenty-one service members were transported back to the United States, according to the Department of Defense.

But the agency cautioned that the numbers are a “snapshot in time,” adding that they might be subject to change.

“The Defense Department is steadfast in its efforts to deliver programs and services intended to lead to the best possible outcomes for our service members. We are grateful to the efforts of our medical professionals who have worked diligently to ensure the appropriate level of care for our service members, which has enabled nearly 70 percent of those diagnosed to return to duty. We must continue to address physical and mental health together,” Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injuries aren’t always detected right away.

Gen. Qassem Soleimani
The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, Gen. Qassem Soleimani is seen in Tehran on Sept. 14, 2013. (Mehdi Ghasemi/ISNA/AFP via Getty Images)

In early January, Iran fired about two-dozen missiles at two airbases in Iraq in retaliation for a U.S. airstrike that killed high-ranking commander Qassem Soleimani near the Baghdad airport. President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Soleimani was plotting attacks to kill Americans and attack assets in the region. They also highlighted the death of an American contractor at the hands of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia group that allegedly had ties to Soleimani.

The missile attack prompted Trump to unleash more sanctions on Tehran, targeting several high-level officials and its industry.

“The United States will continue to counter the Iranian regime’s destructive and destabilizing behavior. Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. These punishing economic sanctions will remain until the Iranian regime changes its behavior. The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it,” Trump said in January.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claimed on Monday that Soleimani, who headed the shadowy Quds Force under the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, had sought to bring “stability and calm” in the Middle East. The State Department last year declared both the Quds Force and Revolutionary Guards as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

“If commander Soleimani wanted to kill American generals, it would have been very, very easy for him, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and any other place. He never did that,” Rouhani said, according to Reuters.