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US says 34 troops suffered traumatic brain injury in Iran strikes on Iraqi base

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The Pentagon disclosed Friday that 34 US service members had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury following Irans missile strikes on an Iraqi base earlier this month, a number higher than the military had previously announced. The revelation belies US President Donald Trumps initial claim that no Americans were harmed in the attack.

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Eight of the 34 injured arrived in the US on Friday from Germany, where they and nine others had been flown days after the January 8 missile strike on Iraq's Ain al-Asad air base. The nine still in Germany are receiving treatment and evaluation at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the largest US military hospital outside the continental United States.

Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said the eight in the US will be treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, or at their home bases. The exact nature of their injuries and their service and unit affiliations were not disclosed.

Trump and other top officials initially said Iran's retaliatory strikes for the January 3 killing of Irans Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani had not killed or injured any US service members.

The military said symptoms of concussion or traumatic brain injury were not immediately reported after the strike and in some cases became known only days later. Many were in bunkers before nearly a dozen Iranian ballistic missiles exploded.

Trump: 'I heard they had headaches'

Last week, US military officials said 11 troops had been treated and transferred out of Iraq for concussion symptoms after the attack on the Ain al-Asad base.

Responding to the disclosure while he was in Davos Wednesday, Trump appeared to dismiss the injuries.

“I heard they had headaches,” said Trump at a news conference. “I dont consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries I have seen.”

Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat and his partys ranking member on the Armed Services Committee, called on Trump to apologise.

“TBI is a serious matter,” said Reed in a statement, referring to Traumatic Brain Injury. “It is not a headache, and its plain wrong for President Trump to diminish their wounds. He may not have meant to disrespect them, but President Trumps comments were an insult to our troops. He owes them an apology.”

“Its plain wrong for President Trump to diminish their wounds,” Mr. Reed, who served as an officer in the 82nd Airborne Division, said in a statement Friday. “He may not have meant to disrespect them, but President Trumps comments were an insult to our troops. He owes them an apology.”

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, has become a bigger concern for the military in recent years as medical science improves its understanding of its causes and effects on brain function. It can involve varying degrees of impairment of thinking, memory, vision, hearing and other functions. The severity and duration of the injury can vary widely.

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