The Biden White House continues to face pressure after it was revealed that the administration slow-played the news that roughly two dozen American soldiers received injuries after an attack on U.S. bases in the Middle East.
Politico reports that nineteen American service members stationed in Iraq and Syria have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury after rocket and drone attacks from Iran-backed militants last week, according to a Defense Department official.
Fifteen troops at Al Tanf garrison in Syria and four at Al Asad air base in Iraq were diagnosed with the injury, the official said on Thursday. Two additional service members at Al Tanf sustained other minor injuries, the official said, and all have returned to duty.
The official was granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The news comes a day after the Pentagon announced that 21 service members had received minor injuries during the attacks on Oct. 17 and 18. Iran-backed groups have launched a number of additional attacks on U.S. positions in Iraq and Syria over the past week, but none has resulted in additional injuries to service members.
The attacks, which followed the largest terrorist attack against Israel in decades, were launched by Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to The Pentagon.
“What we are seeing is the prospect for more significant escalation against U.S. forces and personnel across the region in the very near term coming from Iranian proxy forces, and ultimately from Iran,” Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, told NBC News.
The incident reveals a presidential administration that does not prioritize protecting American troops abroad. This was reflected by the way administration officials described the situation to one of its pro-Biden newspapers: The Washington Post.
The newspaper reported that “the president’s disclosure, delivered while standing beside Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in the White House Rose Garden, followed reports that nearly two dozen American troops were hurt within the last eight days after 14 or more aerial assaults on their bases in Iraq and Syria. An additional attack was recorded Wednesday, after three rockets were launched at a U.S. outpost in northeast Syria and one landed inside, a defense official said. No one was reported injured.”
A senior administration official interviewed by WaPo spoke on the condition of anonymity to explain Biden’s, saying that “nothing has changed about our prerogatives” to protect deployed service members, but “we’re also not blind to the fact that there are other forces at work now, and we want to be informed by what else is going on in the region.”
In other words, according to this official, nothing has changed the president’s commitment to protecting our service members except everything that has happened over the past three weeks.