Though President Donald Trump bragged that no Americans were harmed in the Iranian missile strike on U.S. forces in Iraq earlier this month, the Pentagon is telling a different — and evolving — story of more than a dozen injured, and maybe more to come.
After admitting Friday that 11 U.S. troops had been hospitalized for concussion-like symptoms, Pentagon officials said Tuesday that “additional” personnel had been sent to an American military hospital in Germany for treatment “on an outpatient basis.” They declined to say exactly how many were hospitalized.
Trump downplayed the seriousness of the injuries, however. “I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things, but I can report it is not very serious,” Trump said during a Wednesday press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. After a follow-up asking if he considered traumatic brain injuries “serious,” Trump responded: “No, I don’t consider them very serious relative to other injuries that I’ve seen.”
“As medical treatment and evaluations in theater continue, additional service members have been identified as having potential injuries,” Army Maj. Beth Riordan, a spokesperson for the military, said in a statement on Tuesday announcing the additional injuries.
Riordan also noted that more reported injuries may be coming. “Given the nature of injuries already noted, it is possible additional injuries may be identified in the future,” the statement read.
On Jan. 3, a drone strike ordered by Trump killed a top Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, as well as Iraqi militia leader Abu al-Muhandis. Five days later, Iran responded by launching its ballistic missile attack on two air bases in Iraq where U.S. soldiers are stationed. In the immediate aftermath, Trump declared that “no Americans were harmed” in the attack.
The U.S. didn’t retaliate, and in the weeks since, tensions have steadily decreased from their peak following Soleimani’s death. In a rare sermon last week, however, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Trump a “clown.”
Cover: U.S. soldiers stand at a site of an Iranian bombing at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles on Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani. (AP Photo/Qassim Abdul-Zahra)