Trump Downplays Brain Injuries in Iran Attack With Toll at 109

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(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump again downplayed the severity of head injuries suffered by U.S. troops during an Iranian missile attack, as the injury total rose to 109.

Trump spoke to Fox Business in an interview Monday, after the Defense Department said that 109 U.S. service members, or 45 more than previously disclosed, had been diagnosed with a “mild traumatic brain injury” after the Jan. 8 Iranian strike on the Al Asad airbase in Iraq. That strike was in retaliation for the U.S. killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, an act Trump has regularly touted on the campaign trail.

“They landed in a way that didn’t hit anybody,” Trump said of Iran’s missile strike. “And so when they came in and told me that nobody was killed, I was impressed by that and, you know, I stopped something that would have been very devastating for them.” He didn’t specify what he stopped.

He said he later found out that there were “head trauma” injuries. Trump last month described the injuries as “headaches” and said he didn’t consider them similar to other injuries, such as losing a limb. He echoed that sentiment on Monday.

“Head trauma -- that exists, but it’s, you know, I viewed it a little bit differently than most and I won’t be changing my mind on that,” Trump said Monday.

Of the 109 injured, 33 haven’t returned to active duty. Twenty-one of those have been transferred back to the U.S. for further evaluation and treatment, the Defense Department said on Monday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Josh Wingrove in Washington at jwingrove4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at wfaries@bloomberg.net, John Harney, Chelsea Mes

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