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Pentagon now says 64 troops injured in Iran strike

Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The Pentagon has again revised up the number of U.S. soldiers diagnosed with brain injuries following an Iranian missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq earlier this month to 64.

The Defense Department first revealed 11 soldiers were injured in the missile attack by Iran nine days after it occurred on Jan. 8.

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On the day of the attack, President Donald Trump said in televised remarks that no U.S. soldier was hurt and Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley noted casualties were averted as they received early warning of the strikes.

Since then, the number of casualties -- which the U.S. military considers an injury or death -- has been revised up several times, including Tuesday when the Pentagon said a total of 50 people had been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, from the attack.

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On Thursday, the Pentagon said 14 more soldiers were diagnosed with TBI.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines TBI as "a disruption in the normal function of the Brian that can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury."

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Milley told reporters that TBI can take time to manifest so they continued to screen for it following the incident. Some of the soldiers, he said, have been evacuated to Europe and others to the United Staes. He said all those injured have been diagnosed with mild TBI and were not serious injuries.

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"That's not to minimize or dismiss or anything," he said. "That's just to say that that's how we categorize casualties."

Active duty and reserve service members are at a higher risk of sustaining TBI than the general public, according to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.

Secretary of State Mark Esper said their initial reporting at the time was accurate but as they learned of the first injuries they expected more to follow.

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"I think we did our best to report no casualties, and I still believe that there were -- that morning there were no casualties reported," he said.

The injured troops are in the early stages of therapy, Milley said, and they will be monitored through their "lifetime of service and beyond."

Iran launched 16 missies at two Iraqi airbases in early January in retaliation to a U.S. airstrike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Crops.

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The attacks occurred amid heightened tensions between the two countries that have since simmered after Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing all 176 on board, within hours of attacking the Iraqi bases.

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