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U.S. soldiers clear rubble at al-Asad Base in the western Iraqi province of Anbar. Photo: Ayman Henna/ AFP via Getty Images

109 American troops suffered traumatic brain injuries as a result of Iran's Jan. 8 missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq, the Defense Department said in a statement Monday.

Why it matters: The development, first reported by Reuters, is a significant jump from the 50 cases the Pentagon disclosed in late January — and more than triple the number disclosed in the immediate aftermath of the strike.

  • Traumatic brain injuries are not always detected immediately, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Pentagon spokesperson Thomas Campbell indicated in January that the numbers could increase.
  • Of the 109 troops diagnosed, 76 service members have returned to duty.

Yes, but: President Trump said that the injuries suffered by soldiers in the attack, which was a response to a U.S. strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, weren't very serious — and brushed them off as "headaches."

  • That comment prompted the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the nation's largest veterans group, to ask Trump to apologize for minimizing the injuries.

What they're saying:

"The Defense Department is steadfast in its efforts to deliver programs and services intended to lead to the best possible outcomes for our service members. We are grateful to the efforts of our medical professionals who have worked diligently to ensure the appropriate level of care for our service members, which has enabled nearly 70 percent of those diagnosed to return to duty. We must continue to address physical and mental health together.”
— Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah

Go deeper

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.

Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office.
  2. Health: Coronavirus death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased COVID-19 testing can reduce transmission — Hospitalizations top 100,000 for the first time.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Vaccine: What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do — Obama, Bush and Clinton willing to take vaccine in public —WSJ: Pfizer expects to ship half as many COVID vaccines as planned in 2020.
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Clean trucks are paving the road to the electric vehicle era

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The electric vehicle revolution is underway, led by the un-sexiest of plug-in models: the commercial truck.

Why it matters: Growing demand for cleaner trucks means 2021 will be a pivotal year for electric vehicles — just not the kind you might have expected.