The Pentagon on Tuesday said that 50 U.S. service members sustained brain injuries from Iranian airstrikes on Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq this month, 16 more than it had acknowledged last week.
Of the 50 troops affected, 31 were treated in Iraq and returned to duty, “including 15 of the additional service members,” Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
“As stated previously, this is a snapshot in time and numbers can change,” Campbell said. “We will continue to provide updates as they become available.”
The Defense Department said Friday that 34 U.S. service members had traumatic brain injuries as a result of the Jan. 8 attack. In the hours after the strike, President Donald Trump said that no Americans had been hurt.
The number of U.S. troops taken to Germany for further evaluation and treatment also increased, to 18 from 17, according to the Pentagon’s statement Tuesday.
One service member who was taken to Kuwait has since returned to duty, Campbell said.
The rising number of injuries undercuts Trump’s initial statements hours after the strike.
“I’m pleased to inform you the American people should be extremely grateful and happy,” the president said in a speech Jan. 9. “No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime.”
Brain injuries are not always immediately apparent, officials have said, noting that delays in reporting the injuries can also be caused by the time it takes for information to work its way to leaders in Washington.
After the Pentagon said that U.S. troops were showing signs of concussions after the Iranian missile strikes, Trump on Jan. 22 disregarded the symptoms as “not very serious,” drawing criticism from veterans groups.
“I heard they had headaches,” Trump said at a news conference in Davos, Switzerland. “No, I don’t consider them very serious injuries, relative to other injuries that I’ve seen.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.
At least a dozen missiles were fired during the attack, which was a retaliation for the killing of a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, by a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3.