In recent days, alarming reports have emerged, shedding light on a significant increase in the number of US service members injured in attacks in Iraq and Syria.
The Pentagon has revealed that more than twice as many American military personnel may have sustained injuries in these attacks than previously disclosed.
This revelation has raised concerns about the safety of US forces in the region, particularly given the potential long-term consequences of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
According to US defense officials, at least 45 American service members are now reporting minor injuries or potential traumatic brain injuries resulting from the attacks.
These assaults are believed to have been carried out by groups with links to Iran, intensifying the debate over US-Iran relations and the security of US forces in the Middle East.
Previously, the Defense Department had confirmed that 21 service members received minor injuries during attacks on US forces at al-Tanf in southern Syria and al-Asad air base in western Iraq late last month.
The increase in reported cases of possible traumatic brain injuries is attributed to more individuals coming forward with symptoms and reporting their injuries.
It is important to note that the number of potential TBI cases may fluctuate in the coming weeks and months as troops are either cleared of symptoms or new issues emerge.
Members of Congress, including Reps. Ruben Gallego, Morgan Luttrell, and Bill Johnson, who are all military veterans, have expressed their concerns about the safety of service members stationed at forward operating bases and the need for proactive measures to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury.
They have urged Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to provide more information about how the military screens for TBI after incidents, ensuring prompt identification and treatment of injuries.
Since October 17, there have been approximately 38 separate attacks on bases housing US troops in Syria and Iraq.
These attacks have primarily involved drones, mortars, or rockets, and two of them led to the injuries of American personnel on October 18.
US Troops at Risk of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Iraq and Syria
The attack on al-Tanf in southern Syria involved two drones, one of which was shot down, but the other successfully struck the base, causing injuries to US troops.
Similarly, the attack on al-Asad air base in Iraq saw two drones being shot down, but one of them broke apart over the floor, leading to injuries.
Tragically, a US contractor lost his life on that day due to a heart attack while taking shelter at al-Asad.
A separate attack on October 25 had the potential to be catastrophic. An explosives-filled drone struck the roof of a building housing US troops in Erbil. Fortunately, the drone did not explode, averting what could have been a devastating event resulting in injuries or fatalities for many service members.
In response to the escalating attacks, the US military conducted strikes on two targets in eastern Syria last month.
These targeted an ammunition storage facility and a weapons storage facility believed to have direct ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxy groups.
The US attributes these attacks to Iranian-backed militia groups. While they have not directly implicated Iran in directing the episodes, they hold Iran responsible for funding, arming, equipping, and training these groups.
A senior US defense official emphasized the importance of Iran taking specific actions to ensure that its militias and proxies stand down.
The situation in the Middle East remains complex and evolving, and the safety and well-being of US service members continue to be a top priority for the US government.
In light of the increasing number of traumatic brain injuries and the potential dangers faced by American forces, these developments underscore the urgency of addressing security concerns and pursuing diplomatic solutions to de-escalate tensions in the region.