Drone and rocket attacks that killed a United States contractor in Syria have injured more than two dozen U.S. troops. Eleven more soldiers have been diagnosesd with traumatic brain injuries, according to CNN.
Originally, five U.S. troops and the deceased contractor were reported as the victims of a "one-way unmanned aerial vehicle" of "Iranian origin" on March 23, 2023.
However, U.S. Central Command has reported 11 more cases of brain injuries, bringing the total number of wounded to 25.
“Our medical teams continue to assess and evaluate our troops for indications of [traumatic brain injury],” said Colonel Joe Buccino, spokesman for CENTCOM.
The attacks have been attributed to militias affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who were not only blamed for the suicide-drone attacks, but also a series of rockets fired on U.S. troops.
After American forces retaliated with an airstrike destroying IRGC infrastructure, killing eight soldiers, militants responded the next day with rockets aimed at a U.S. site. One service member was injured at Mission Support Site Conoco in northeast Syria, a location that is very familiar with rocket attacks from Iranian-affiliated militants.
Later, three suicide drones attacked Mission Support Site Green Village, also located in northeast Syria. Two drones were downed by air defense systems, but the third managed to damage a building.
Both locations have both been subject to prior rocket attacks, such as an August 2022 incident that saw a significant U.S. retaliation using "AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, AC-130 gunships, and M777 artillery, killing four militants and destroying rocket launchers."
The Iranian-affiliated militants also used drone attacks at the time. Four American F-15Es and four F-16s attacked nine militant bunkers in response.
In 2020, more than 100 brain injuries were reported from American troops after an Iranian missile strike on a U.S. base in Iraq.
A week after the most recent attacks, the Pentagon had originally identified only six service members with traumatic brain injuries. Even after an additional 11 have been identified, the number of diagnoses may still grow.
Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said that the U.S. “will take all necessary measures to defend our troops and our interests overseas.”
“We do not seek conflict with Iran,” but “we will always protect our people," the secretary added.
It is important to note that the term "brain injuries" can refer to injuries as common as mild concussions as well as far more serious, debilitating injuries.
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