U.S. Marines are seen at the Baghdad Embassy Compound on December 31. Photo by Sgt. Kyle C. Talbot/U.S. Marine Corps | License Photo
Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Nearly a dozen U.S. troops were injured after two Iranian missile strikes on a pair of American-held bases in Iraq last week, the Pentagon reported in a reversal of what military officials and President Donald Trump initially said.
The Defense Department said Thursday 11 U.S. service members were treated for concussion symptoms after Iran launched ballistic missiles at bases in al-Asad and Erbil, Iraq on Jan. 8. The strikes were retaliation for a U.S airstrike days earlier that killed a high-ranking Iranian military official.
"While no U.S. service members were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack ... several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed," said U.S. Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban.
He said they were taken to two hospitals in Germany and Kuwait and are expected to return to Iraq.
In nationally televised remarks the day of the attack, Trump said, "We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases." Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley noted that casualties were averted because military officials received an early warning about the strikes.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said tentage, taxiways, a helicopter and a parking lot were damaged, but made no mention of any injured American or coalition soldiers. The Department of Defense defines casualties as an injury or death.
"Most importantly, no casualties, no friendly casualties, whether they are U.S., coalition, contractor, etc.," he told reporters.
Tehran launched 16 ballistic missiles at the bases to retaliate for a U.S. drone strike five days earlier that killed Qassem Soleimani, a commander of the elite Quds Force.
Hours later, more Iranian missiles shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane after it departed the airport in Tehran, killing all 176 people on board. Iranian officials initially said a mechanical failure was to blame, but admitted three days later it had been a missile -- after U.S. intelligence said it suspected the airliner was shot out of the sky. Tehran said the shootdown was a mistake, and the incident led to mass protests by Iranians who called for the removal of religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.