The US forces severely attacked an Islamic State tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday with “the mother of all bombs,” – the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in battle by the U.S. military, said Pentagon officials.
Known as a GBU-43B, or massive ordnance air blast weapon, the bomb releases 11 tons of explosives. At the time of its development in the early 2000s, the Pentagon did a proper evaluation of legal justification for its use.
While President Donald Trump called the attack a “very, very successful mission,” the Pentagon said, it had no early estimate of deaths or damage triggered by its outbreak. “The bomb was dropped at 7:32 pm (local time) Thursday on a tunnel complex in Achin district of Nangarhar province, where the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State group has been operating. The target was close to the Pakistani border,” the US military headquarters in Kabul said in a statement.
As per the US estimation 600 to 800 IS fighters were present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. Notably, US Army special forces soldier, staff sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Maryland, was killed in action in Nangarhar last week only.
The custom-made Air Force weapon MOAB has been in the store for over a decade now but never used on the battleground. The weapon is designed to hit softer targets like surface facilities, tunnel entrances and troop focuses.
“Although the MOAB weapon leaves a large footprint, it is discriminate and requires a deliberate launching toward the target,” Pentagon had said in its 2003 review of the legality of using the MOAB. “It is expected that the weapon will have a substantial psychological effect on those who witness its use,” it added.
The bomb was dropped from a US MC-130 special operations transport and had been brought to Afghanistan “some time ago” for potential use, Adam Stump, a Pentagon spokesman, said.
IS fighters had used the tunnels and caves in Achin to move freely. “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,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.