By Servet Gunerigok
WASHINGTON (AA) - The Pentagon on Tuesday raised the number of troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries caused by Iranian ballistic missile strikes this month on an Iraqi air base.
"As of today, 50 U.S. service members have been diagnosed with TBI," Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell said in a statement, referring to traumatic brain injury.
Of them, 31 were treated in Iraq and returned to duty, including 16 of the additional service members who have been diagnosed since the previous report, said Campbell
"Eighteen service members have been transported to Germany for further evaluation and treatment," he added.
Last week, the Pentagon put the number of injured at 34.
U.S. President Donald Trump initially said no U.S. troops were injured in the Jan. 8 airstrikes, which Iran carried out in retaliation for the U.S. assassination of its top general for regional operations, Qassem Soleimani.
But the casualty toll was updated by the Pentagon days later when it said on Jan. 17 that 11 service members had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.
Addressing reporters in Davos, Switzerland earlier this week, Trump said he "heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things," calling the injuries "not very serious."
"I don't consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I've seen," he said. "I do not consider that to be bad injuries. No."
Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike near Baghdad International Airport, putting Washington and Tehran on the brink of war, but each side has talked down the possibility of further escalation following Iran's retaliation.