“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 US-led military coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria said in a statement Thursday.
“Out of an abundance of caution, service members were transported from Al Asad Air Base, Iraq to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for follow-on screening. When deemed fit for duty, the service members are expected to return to Iraq following screening,” the statement added.
A US military official told CNN that 11 service members had been injured in the attack, which was launched in retaliation for the US airstrikes that had killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani the previous week. Defense One was first to report on the injured service members. Following the attack the Pentagon said that no casualties had resulted from the 16 missiles fired by Iran.
Asked about the apparent discrepancy, a Defense official told CNN, “That was the commander’s assessment at the time. Symptoms emerged days after the fact, and they were treated out of an abundance of caution.”
“We corrected the record today,” Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, told CNN. The Office of the Secretary of Defense “learned about these injuries today and directed a statement go out immediately.”
The US military defines a casualty as either an injury or fatality involving personnel.
All soldiers in the immediate blast area were screened and assessed per standard procedure, according to the Defense Department.
“The current (Battle Damage Assessment) is, if you will, again, we can get you details, things like tentage, taxiways, the parking lot, a damaged helicopter, things like that; nothing that I would describe as major, at least as I note at this point in time. So that’s the state of — of the attack at this point as we know it. Most importantly, no casualties, no friendly casualties, whether they are US, coalition, contractor, etc.,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said last week.
No statement on the injuries had been widely distributed to the press as of 9 p.m. Thursday.
The news of the injuries come after Iran fired at two Iraqi bases housing US troops in retaliation for Soleimani’s killing in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The administration sought to cast its strike on Soleimani as an attempt to de-escalate tensions with Iran, but Tehran has described it as an “act of war” and “state terrorism.” Soleimani had been the second most powerful official in the country.
US officials have offered differing accounts of what they see as the motivations behind Iran’s attack. Vice President Mike Pence said las