US troops suf­fer brain in­juries in Iran at­tack

Daily Express - - Front Page - By Liz Perkins

THIRTY-FOUR US troops have been di­ag­nosed with brain in­juries fol­low­ing an Ira­nian mis­sile at­tack on their base in Iraq, the Pen­tagon said yes­ter­day.

Sev­en­teen re­main un­der med­i­cal ob­ser­va­tion, while the rest have re­turned to their du­ties.

The Jan­uary 8 strike saw Iran hit back fol­low­ing the US drone as­sas­si­na­tion of in­flu­en­tial Ira­nian gen­eral Qassem Suleimani.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said he had been told that no troops had been in­jured in the at­tack.

But, fol­low­ing re­ports of sol­diers with con­cus­sion and trau­matic brain in­juries, he said: “I heard that they had headaches. And a cou­ple of other things. But, I would say, and I can re­port, it is not very se­ri­ous.”

Jonathan Hoff­man, the chief Pen­tagon spokesman, gave the first up­date yes­ter­day since the at­tack and re­vealed that, out of the 34 with trau­matic brain in­juries, 18 were evac­u­ated from Iraq to US med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties in Ger­many and Kuwait. But 16 stayed in Iraq, it was said.

Mr Hoff­man said: “This is a snap­shot in time. What he wanted to make sure is that you’re pro­vided with the most ac­cu­rate num­bers.” He said US de­fence sec­re­tary Mark Esper had di­rected the Pen­tagon to re­view the process for track­ing and re­port­ing in­juries.

Mr Hoff­man added: “The goal is to be trans­par­ent, ac­cu­rate and to pro­vide the Amer­i­can peo­ple and our ser­vice mem­bers with the best in­for­ma­tion.”

No one was killed in the at­tack on the air base in Ain al-Asad, in west­ern Iraq.

Michael Kaplen, chair­man of the New York State Trau­matic Brain In­jury Ser­vices Co­or­di­nat­ing Coun­cil, warned such in­juries could be “life-al­ter­ing”.

He branded Mr Trump’s state­ment as “ig­no­rant”.

He said: “To equate trau­matic brain in­juries as just a headache is in­sult­ing and dis­re­spect­ful to the thou­sands of mil­i­tary ser­vice mem­bers suf­fer­ing from the sig­na­ture wound of the Iraq/ Afghanista­n con­flict.

“Its phys­i­cal, cog­ni­tive, emo­tional and be­havioural con­se­quences af­fect ev­ery as­pect of an in­di­vid­ual’s life.

“A brain in­jury is only ‘mild’ if it is some­one else’s brain. There is noth­ing mild about a brain in­jury.”

Pen­tagon fig­ures have re­vealed about 408,000 ser­vice mem­bers have been di­ag­nosed with trau­matic brain in­juries since 2000.

Pic­ture: GETTY

Af­ter­math of the mis­sile at­tack at the Ain al-Asad base

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