The most powerful non-nuclear bomb dropped by the U.S. military on an Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) stronghold along the Pakistan border in eastern Afghanistan killed at least 36 jihadists, according to Afghan officials.
“This was the right weapon against the right target,” declared American Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
“Let me be clear — we will not relent in our mission to fight alongside our Afghan comrades to destroy ISIS-K in 2017,” he added, referring to ISIS’s regional wing known as the Khorasan province.
Although U.S. forces have not explicitly said how many terrorists the strike may have killed, Afghan defense officials put the number at 36.
Officially known as the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB), the U.S. military deployed the massive 21,600-pound bomb in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province on Thursday, marking the first time the U.S. used it in battle.
Between 600 and 800 Islamic State fighters were believed to be on the ground in Afghanistan when the U.S. military dropped the MOAB on a network of fortified, underground tunnels that terrorist group had been using to stage attacks on U.S.-backed Afghan forces.
The U.S. military has identified the opium-rich province of Nangarhar as ISIS’s primary stronghold in the Afghanistan region.
CNN notes, “the GPS-guided munition is known as the ‘mother of all bombs’ and is capable of destroying an area equivalent to nine city blocks.”
Citing U.S. and Afghan officials, it adds, “The blast destroyed three underground tunnels as well as weapons and ammunition, but no civilians were hurt.”
Dropping the munition in Afghanistan was “another successful job,” said President Donald Trump.
“Residents in villages kilometers away from the target area felt Thursday’s powerful strike as if bombs had fallen nearby,” reports CNN.
“I have witnessed a countless number of explosions and bombings in the last 30 years of war in Afghanistan, but this one was more powerful than any other bomb as far as I remember,” a resident living about 1.5 miles from the blast told CNN.
The local Afghan noted that he heard an “extremely loud boom that smashed the windows of our house.”
ISIS established its branch in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in January 2015, less than a month after former President Barack Obama declared an end to the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan.
By the time the end of mission declaration came, the U.S. had dramatically reduced its military footprint in the war-devastated nation.
The number of ISIS jihadists in Afghanistan peaked at 3,000. However, now the group has been dramatically degraded to no more than 800 fighters.
In March, U.S.-backed Afghan troops went on the offensive against ISIS-K, targeting the group in its Nangarhar province stronghold.
Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States, Hamdullah Mohib, said the colossal munition was dropped after the battle in Nangarhar had intensified over the last week.
“US and Afghan forces had been unable to advance because ISIS —which has expanded into Afghanistan in recent years — had mined the area with explosives,” notes CNN.