After Iran launched a missile attack on two military bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops on January 8, the Pentagon, as well as Donald Trump, quickly claimed that the strikes had inflicted zero American casualties. In fact, just hours after the missile attacks, Trump took to Twitter to claim “All is well!” and “So far, so good!”
But on Thursday, eight days after the missile attacks, the Pentagon admitted that 11 U.S. service members were, in fact, hurt in the attack, each hospitalized for “traumatic brain injury,” according to a report by the military news site Defense One.
The Iranians launched the strikes as retaliation for the assassination of top Iran military leader Qassem Soleimani, an assassination that was personally ordered by Trump.
“Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world,” Trump announced in a White House statement the morning following the attacks, as quoted by CNN.
“As previously stated, while no U.S. service members were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad Air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed,” the Pentagon said in a statement on Thursday, as quoted by Defense One.
U.S. officials have come to believe that Iran did not intend the missile attacks to kill Americans, a belief that appeared to be confirmed by a top Iranian official last week, according to CNN.
“We do not consider a high number of casualties as an instrumental element in our calculations,” Iranian Ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi said in a CNN interview.
But one expert said that the new reports of U.S. injuries show that Iran was indeed “trying to kill Americans.”
On his Twitter account, Ilan Goldenberg, the Middle East Security Director at the Center for a New American Security, wrote that the U.S. was “lucky” that the missile strikes did not claim any American lives.
“We came very very very close to a major war with Iran last week,” Goldenberg wrote, adding that it was “at least partially dumb luck” that a major war did not break out as a result of the Soleimani assassination and the resulting retaliatory attack by Iran.
The Defense Department said in a statement that some of the 11 injured troops were transported to a hospital in Germany to recover from their brain injuries, while the remainder were taken to Camp Arifjan, a U.S. military base in Kuwait, according to the Defense One report.