US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has blasted President Donald Trump for downplaying the injuries that US troops suffered after an Iranian retaliatory missile attack earlier this month in Iraq, saying Trump’s comments were “disgusting.”
The former US vice president offered his harsh criticism of Trump while speaking on Friday at an election campaign event in the state of New Hampshire.
“Just this week, he brushed off the injuries sustained by those brave troops who were on the other side of the Iranian bombardment and missile attack in Iraq from Iran,” Biden said.
“He said no, they just have headaches,” Biden said. “The idea that [it’s] taken so lightly — I find it, quite frankly, disgusting.”
Biden said there are “300,000 estimated people coming home from these wars suffering from post-traumatic stress as a consequence of being exposed to the traumatic brain injuries.”
According to Pentagon data, about 408,000 service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury since 2000.
Asked on Wednesday about the injuries, the president said at a news conference before departing Davos, Switzerland, that “I heard they had headaches and a couple of other things,” adding: “I can report, it’s not very serious.”
When a reporter asked if he considered potential traumatic brain injury serious, Trump responded: “I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I’ve seen.”
The Pentagon said on Friday 34 service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury following the Iran strike on January 8, despite Washington’s initial claim denying casualties.
“Thirty-four total members have been diagnosed with concussions and TBI (traumatic brain injury),” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters a press conference.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) fired volleys of ballistic missiles at Ain al-Asad, a large airbase hosting about 1,500 US troops, and another outpost in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan.
The missile operation was in response to Washington’s January 3 assassination of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who led the IRGC’s Quds Force.
The assassination also resulted in the death of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).
Speaking on the morning following Iran’s reciprocal military operation, US President Donald Trump had said that “no Americans were harmed in last night’s attack”.
“We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases,” he added.