The US has dropped what has been described as the largest non-nuclear bomb in the country’s arsenal on an area of eastern Afghanistan known to be populated by Isis-affiliated militants.
The Pentagon said the strike was the first time the 21,000lb weapon had been used in combat operations.
A spokesperson for the US Department of Defence confirmed to The Independent that a MC-130 aircraft dropped a GBU-43 bomb at 7pm local time.
The weapon is known in the US Air Force by its nickname MOAB, or “mother of all bombs”. MOAB stands for massive ordinance air blast.
Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said the bomb was dropped on a cave complex believed to be used by fighters affiliated to Isis in the Achin district of Nangarhar, close to the border with Pakistan.
The mission had been in the planning stages for months, the Pentagon said in a separate statement. However, they “did not have the information” on whether the mission was being planned during the previous Obama administration.
US Army General John W Nicholson, commander of the country’s forces in Afghanistan, said in a written statement that the strike was designed to minimise the risk to Afghan and US forces conducting clearing operations in the Achin area “while maximising the destruction” of Isis fighters and facilities. He said Isis has been using improvised explosive devices, bunkers and tunnels to strengthen its defences.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the US had used a “large, powerful and accurately-delivered weapon” to disrupt the movements of militants in the country.
“This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against Isis,” General John Nicholson, the head of US and international forces in Afghanistan, it said in a statement.
Though the Pentagon confirmed to The Independent that the “signoff” went up to General Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, they could not say whether the order went all the way up to the White House. Read More…