After President Trump said they had ‘headaches,’ 34 soldiers have been diagnosed with brain injuries from Iran attack
On Friday, January 24, 2020, the Defense Department confirmed that 34 U.S. troops that were stationed at the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after being attacked during the Iranian airstrike on January 8, 2020. To add insult to injury, Trump referred to their injuries as “headaches” and claimed that it wasn’t that serious.
After Trump ordered a drone strike at the beginning of the year that killed Iran’s most powerful military commander, Qasem Soleiman, Iran retaliated with an attack on U.S. troops stationed at the air base. Troops reportedly hid inside their bunkers as missiles rained down on the base for two hours.
At first, the Trump administration claimed that there were no injuries after the attack, then earlier this week when many of the soldiers began to complain of concussion-like symptoms and the Pentagon said that they were being examined for potential brain injuries, Trump brushed it off and referred to their symptoms as “headaches.”
“I heard they had headaches,” Trump said at a news conference in Davos, Switzerland this week. “No, I don’t consider them very serious injuries, relative to other injuries that I’ve seen.”
Despite the president’s comments, The New York Times reports that 34 soldiers have now officially been diagnosed with brain injuries and the Defense Department added that some of the affected soldiers were just feet away from where the Iranian missiles struck. A Pentagon spokesman added that only eight injured soldiers have returned home after being treated at a hospital in Germany, while the rest remain in hospitals overseas.
Many are now calling on the president to apologize to the injured troops.
“It’s plain wrong for President Trump to diminish their wounds,” Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and former officer in the 82nd Airborne Division, said in a statement to The Times. “He may not have meant to disrespect them, but President Trump’s comments were an insult to our troops. He owes them an apology.”
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I had no idea when I was reporting this story from Baghdad how potentially deadly it could have been for US, coalition forces and the civilian contractors on the base. It was only when we got to the al-Asad airbase and saw the aftermath of Iran’s missile strikes and heard the stories did we begin to understand. We were the first journalists to tour the base and hear the stories of the close calls, the scramble to prepare for an attack the likes of which the US has not seen in decades. American forces are not used to being on the receiving end of missiles like these, they are usually the ones delivering them. Even those who we spoke to who had seen combat before said this was an experience like no other. They know firefights, roadside bombs, suicide bombers, ground assaults. What they didn’t know what that sense of helplessness, of being at the mercy of the enemy. Our report with @brice_laine and @tamaraqiblawi #iraq #ballisticmissile #iranstrikes #USmilitary #alasadairbase #ontheroad #foreigncorrespondent
Since the news of the brain injuries were made public earlier today, Trump has tweeted about the March For Life and told his followers to tune into Sean Hannity on Fox News, though it does not appear that he has publicly apologized to the troops or acknowledged their diagnoses, online or elsewhere.
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