Wednesday 23 September 2020
News ID: 76050
Publish Date: 11 February 2020 - 23:05
WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- The U.S. military on Monday disclosed a more than 50% jump in cases of what it calls traumatic brain injury stemming from Iran’s missile attack on a base in Iraq last month, with the number of service members diagnosed climbing to over 100.
American officials still claim no U.S. troops were killed or faced immediate bodily injury when Iran fired missiles at the Ain al-Asad base in Iraq in retaliation for the U.S. assassination of the Middle East’s most prominent anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike at the Baghdad airport on Jan. 3.
However, the U.S. military which initially claimed no injuries in the retaliation has constantly been raising the toll, with one Iranian military spokesman suggesting that the traumatic brain injury is in fact a metaphor for fatalities.
The "brain injuries” description is an unusual and vague expression in common military parlance wherein all injured troops, even mild ones, are classified as being "injured”, the spokesman for the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif said earlier this month.
Reuters was first to report earlier on Monday that there were over 100 cases of TBI, up from the 64 previously reported last month.
The Pentagon, in a statement, confirmed that so far 109 U.S. service members had been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury. It added that 76 of them had returned to duty.
The U.S. military in the past had said to expect an increase in numbers in the weeks after the attack because symptoms can take time to manifest and troops can sometimes take longer to report them.
Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month that the
service members suffering from traumatic brain injuries had been diagnosed with mild cases. He added that the diagnosis could change as time passed.
Symptoms of concussive injuries include headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light and nausea.
Pentagon officials have repeatedly said there has been no effort to minimize or delay information on concussive injuries. But the disclosures following Tehran’s attack have renewed questions over the U.S. military’s policy regarding how it internally reports suspected brain injuries and whether they are treated publicly with the same urgency as loss of limb or life.
U.S. Republican Senator Joni Ernst said more answers were needed.
"I’ve called on the Pentagon to ensure the safety & care of our deployed forces who may be exposed to blast injuries in Iraq,” Ernst said on Twitter.
U.S. 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 U.S. veterans group.
IRGC spokesman Sharif has said based on common death-to-injury ratios resulting from explosive blasts in military conflicts, the number of injured from such attacks is usually "three to four times” larger than the number of dead.  
Shairf said Washington is seeking to conceal the true casualty count from the American public in order to cover its vulnerability towards probable future retaliatory strikes after the Ain al-Asad attack, which was considered only a "first slap”.
"Surely as we approach the U.S. presidential election, more numbers and names related to the dead will be leaked along with the competition among the parties,” he added.

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