Contrary to US President Donald Trump’s declaration that no US soldiers were harmed in Iran’s retaliatory attack over the assassination of its top general, Qassem Soleimani, the Pentagon has now revealed that at least 11 troops were wounded in the missile attack on the Ain Al-Assad airbase in the Anbar province. The airbase is one of the bases used by the US in Iraq, which were struck resulting in significant damage.
“No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties,” posted Trump on Twitter, a day after the 8 January attack codenamed ‘Operation Martyr Soleimani’, by the Iranians.
The troops were medevacked this week to Germany and Kuwait, to be treated for traumatic brain injuries after experiencing concussion symptoms.
“While no US service members were killed in the January 8 Iranian attack on Asad airbase, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed,” Central Command spokesman, Captain Bill Urban, announced in a statement.
Spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, Colonel Myles Caggins, stated: “When deemed fit for duty, the service members are expected to return to Iraq following screening. The health and welfare of our personnel is a top priority and we will not discuss any individual’s medical status.”
Al Jazeera reported that at the time of the attack, most of the 1,500 US soldiers stationed at the airbase had taken refuge in bunkers, following advance warning from superiors. Tehran is believed to have given Iraqi authorities prior notice before launching the missiles. There were soldiers from other nationalities present too, including some from Denmark, who have since been relocated to Kuwait.
However, Iranian sources have consistently maintained that there were US fatalities and casualties from the immediate aftermath of the incident, claiming that at least 80 US troop members died and hundreds have been wounded, reporting that nine planes had airlifted the injured to hospitals in Jordan, Israel and a military hospital in Baghdad.
The Iranian missile attack was the first phase of the “harsh revenge” and what supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, described as a “slap in the face” for the US, whilst a senior commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp has vowed a “harsher revenge” will come soon. The Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces have also promised a retaliation of their own, after their deputy commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was killed alongside Soleimani. Attacks are expected to increase following Washington’s refusal to withdraw from Iraq and economic threats made to Baghdad, after Iraqi parliament passed a resolution requesting that they withdraw, following recent violations of Iraqi sovereignty and attacks on its armed forces.