The US is working on delivering Patriot missile systems to Iraq following Iran’s ballistic missile attack earlier this month, but needs “permission” from the Iraqi government to do so, Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said Thursday.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley confirmed that the US was “working with the Iraqi government,” with “the mechanics of it all” still needing to be worked out.
That process is “ongoing,” according to Milley.
Pentagon to Brief Congress as Traumatic Brain Injuries Mount
Commenting on the new DoD report released this week which revealed that some 50 US servicemembers required treatment for traumatic brain injuries following the January 8 Iranian strikes, Secretary Esper said President Trump was fully aware of the seriousness of these injuries, and promised to brief Capitol Hill on the matter later in the day.
Tuesday’s report by the Pentagon revised upward earlier released figures on traumatic brain injuries sustained by the Iranian missile strike, with the US military previously estimating that 34 troops received the injuries.
Last week, President Trump appeared to play down the extent of these injuries, saying he had been told that they were limited to “headaches and a couple of other things.” Trump said he didn’t consider the injuries “very serious” relative to other injuries he’d seen, such as “people with no legs and no arms.”
On the morning of January 8, Iran launched several dozen missile at US military bases in Iraq, hitting the Erbil Airbase in the country’s north, and the Ayn al-Asad Airbase west of Baghdad. Iran is reported to have provided advance warning to Iraq, who presumably warned the US forces stationed in the country, allowing US troops to take shelter in prepared bunkers. Although they did not kill any US troops, they caused major damage to base infrastructure.
The US military later said that no air defences were deployed at either of the bases.
Tehran launched the missile strikes after warning that it would exact revenge for the assination of Maj. Gen. Soleimani, the senior Iranian commander responsible for carrying out Iranian military operations abroad. Although an adversary of US occupation forces in Iraq and enemy of Israel, Soleimani was also responsible for coordinating multiple Iranian anti-terrorist operations across the Middle East, targeting Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in 2001, and providing assistance to the Syrian and Iraqi governments in their campaigns against Daesh (ISIS)* between 2014 and 2017.
In recent weeks, Iraqi militia forces have repeatedly targeted US troops stationed in the country, with these attacks including rocket artillery attacks against the US Green Zone Embassy compound area in the center of the Iraqi capital.