Over a year ago—in January 2020—Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases. These two bases housed coalition personnel and United States troops. There is no doubt the ballistic missiles came from Iran, as the country claimed responsibility for the missiles, characterizing the attack as a “slap on the face” against America. The attack was in response to the killing of Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian general in Baghdad on the 3rd of January 2020. The United States instigated a drone strike at the Baghdad International Airport, resulting in the death of Soleimani, and the Ayn Al-Asad airbase strike was retaliation.
Initial Assessment of No Serious Injuries Changed to Note Multiple Traumatic Brain Injuries - Although the initial assessment following the ballistic missile attack was that there were no deaths or serious injuries, that assessment was soon altered. The ballistic missile attack left at least 110 service members with traumatic brain injuries. It is believed there were no fatalities because the airbase received an early warning from the United States Space Force. The Iraqi government received notification of the impending ballistic missile attack, which they subsequently passed along to the U.S. military. Although some felt the strike was deliberately designed to avoid fatalities, Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State at the time, stated the attack was intended to kill.
Sixteen Missiles Fired At Al-Asad Airbase - Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had vowed revenge following the death of Soleimani. A recent episode of 60 Minutes went into more detail about the ballistic missile attack. Aerial surveillance footage of the Al-Asad airbase strike was shot by a drone orbiting overhead. The drone first recorded six Qiam-1 short-range ballistic missiles hitting the base, with more coming quickly, for a total of 11 at Al-Asad.
At least two short-range ballistic missiles were fired at Erbil International Airport but failed to reach their target. Intelligence gathered found that Iran had prepared to fire as many as 27 ballistic missiles at Al-Asad. Sixteen missiles were ultimately launched at the airbase, with five of those failing to function. Iran’s Telecommunication Minister tweeted after the incident to the U.S., “Get the hell out of our region.”
The Fateh-313 ballistic missiles carried more than 1,100 pounds each of high explosives, causing the doors of the Al-Asad shelter to “bend like waves.” That impact left service members dealing with traumatic brain injuries; at least 48 were sent to Landstuhl, Germany medical facilities for assessment and treatment. Unfortunately, traumatic brain injuries are all-too-common during the past twenty years of war in the middle east. The U.S. military has historically treated TBIs as injuries that do not require the same level of chain of command rapid reporting as other injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injuries Less Obvious Than Other Military Injuries - Traumatic brain injuries are not as obvious as other injuries—such as shrapnel wounds—therefore, are known as silent injuries. Brain injuries can take longer to diagnose, and can be difficult to treat, leading to brain injuries being minimized or underreported. The Al-Asad soldiers began experiencing headaches and brain fog within days of the attack, with many of those injured suffering persistent TBI symptoms. Military personnel injured in the Iranian ballistic missile attack could benefit significantly from speaking to an Iranian ballistic missile attack injury lawyer who can properly evaluate their potential case.