Al Asad Air Base defences being strengthened
USA

US Confirms 109 Brain Injury Cases After Iraqi Military Base Attack

The disclosed number of injured personnel has risen for a fifth time, from 64 to 109, following the strike on Al Asad air base in January.

Al Asad Air Base defences being strengthened

The number of confirmed injuries to American personnel at an Iraqi air base has risen to more than 100, following an attack by Iran on the site last month.

US officials have confirmed 109 cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI), as a result of Iranian strikes on Al Asad air base on 8 January - the fifth time the disclosed total number of casualties has been increased.

President Donald Trump had initially said "no Americans were harmed", but a later statement revealed 11 service personnel had been injured - a figure which was then increased to 34.

The number of cases then rose for a third time to 50, before a fourth figure jump to 64.

The total amount of service personnel with TBI has now been changed again, to 109.

The Pentagon has said that 76 of those personnel have returned to duty.

Satallite images showing the damage caused to Al Asad air base, following January's attack.

Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, General Mark Milley, last month said that the service members suffering from TBI had been diagnosed with mild cases.

He also explained why original reports may have been so far from subsequent figures.

"When we're in a firefight... the very first thing you're focusing on is life and limb," he said.

"When we say 'reported casualties' - we're really talking about killed in action (KIA) and serious injuries like loss of limbs.

"TBI manifests itself over time - it's not necessarily instantaneous."

A total of 15 missiles were fired at two bases during the 8 January attack in Iraq, with 10 targeting Al Asad, in retaliation for the US assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

Despite Mr Trump releasing a statement on 8 January, stating "all is well", Gen Milley said he was unsurprised the blasts have had a follow-on impact on the health of US troops in Iraq.

"There's concussive injuries from as a result of any explosive device that goes off," he said last month.

Blows to the head and parachute jumping were also listed as potential risks, while US Defense Secretary Mark Esper warned that TBI can occur in training as well as the battlefield.

Therapy and screening processes are said to have been taken, alongside preventative measures such as helmet design, to prevent brain injuries among the troops.

Gen Milley said last month these "unseen wounds of war" can vary between individuals and can depend on proximity to blasts.

"Sometimes they are lifelong, sometimes they resolve themselves in weeks or months," he said.

Cover image: Al Asad air base defences being strengthened by US soldiers and contractors (Picture: US Army).