Washington: The United States dropped a GBU-43 bomb or the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat, in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday against a series of caves used by Islamic State militants, the military said.
A Pentagon spokesperson, Adam Stump, said that it was the first-ever combat use of the GBU-43, which he said contains 11 tonnes of explosives.
It was dropped from a MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan, Stump said.
Also known as the “mother of all bombs,” the GBU-43 is a 21,600 pound (9,797 kg) GPS-guided munition and was first tested in March 2003, just days before the start of the Iraq war.
The security situation in Afghanistan remains precarious, with a number of militant groups trying to claim territory more than 15 years after the US invasion which toppled the Taliban government.
General John Nicholson, the head of US and international forces in Afghanistan, said the bomb was used against caves and bunkers housing fighters of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, also known as ISIS-K.
It was not immediately clear how much damage the device did. Addressing a press briefing after the bomb strike, Donald Trump said that he is “very, very proud of our military…it was another successful event.”
Everybody knows exactly what happens, so, and what I do is I authorise my military. We have the greatest military in the world, and they’ve done a job as usual, so we have given them total authorization. And that’s what they’re doing. And frankly, that’s why they’ve been so successful lately.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer opened his daily news briefing speaking about the use of the bomb and said:
We targeted a system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters used to move around freely, making it easier for them to target US military advisers and Afghan forces in the area.
Last week, a US soldier was killed in the same district as the bomb was dropped while conducting operations against Islamic State.
The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group, we must deny them operational space, which we did.