Friday Jan 17, 2020
WASHINGTON: Eleven members of the US army were injured in the Iranian missile strike on two Iraqi bases in Iraq earlier this month launched in retaliation for the killing of a top general, reported CNN.
"While no US service members were killed in the January 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad Airbase, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed," Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for US Central Command, said in a statement on Thursday.
As a measure of caution, some service members were taken to US facilities in Germany or Kuwait for “follow-on screening,” he added.
“When deemed fit for duty, the service members are expected to return to Iraq.”
Urban said 11 of its troops showed symptoms of concussion after an Iranian missile attack on an Iraqi base where US forces were stationed after initially saying no service members were hurt.
“About a week after the attack some service members were still experiencing some symptoms of concussion,” the official said, adding, “We only got wind of this in the last 24 hours.”
As many as 1,500 Americans were deployed at the vast base deep in Iraq’s Anbar desert.
The attack was retaliation for a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3 that killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
President Donald Trump and the US military had said there were no casualties after the strike on the Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq and a facility in its northern Kurdish region.
Iranian media had later claimed Tehran had killed 80 American were killed in the missile strike. “An informed source at the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps said over 80 American troops were killed and some 200 wounded in the IRGC’s missile strikes on the US airbase of Ain al-Assad in Anbar province in western Iraq,” Mehr News reported.
An earlier report by CNN had said US personnel who were at the base knew an attack was imminent and had taken precautions two-and-a-half hours before it took place.
During an exclusive tour of the military base that came under attack this week, a CNN journalist was told that most US troops were either flown out or had been sheltering in bunkers by 1pm local time when the base came under attack.
At around 1:30am, Iran fired multiple missiles at the base, targeting only the US areas of it that roughly comprise a quarter of the entire area.
Referring to the incident as a "miracle", US troops —speaking for the first time ever since the attack that sent shockwaves across the world occurred — said some soldiers remained outside throughout the attack as missiles hit targets just a few feet away from their bunkers.
US troops said they knew Iran would attack the Al-Asad base. However, they weren't aware of the nature of the attack.
The attack, which lasted for two hours, stopped at dawn. That is when US troops came out to ascertain the damage caused by the missiles.
The Al-Asad military base lies in Iraq's Anbar province. It is one of the oldest and largest military bases which houses nearly 1,500 American troops.
With additional information from Reuters