U.S. drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan

The United States dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb on an ISIS base in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday.

This marked the first time the United States has ever used the GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), also known as the “Mother of All Bombs”, in combat.

The MOAB contained 21,600 pounds of munitions and explosives, and it was so powerful that, according to the Air Force, “a huge mushroom cloud could be seen from 20 miles away” after a MOAB was tested in 2003.

U.S. Central Command confirmed the strike targeted an ISIS-Khorasan base in the Nangarhar province near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The strike took place five days after Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewod, Maryland was killed in combat in the region.

Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, said the MOAB was utilized to decimate the system of underground bunkers and tunnels used by ISIS fighters, many of whom were former Taliban members, to ambush American and Afghan forces.

“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using [improvised bombs], bunkers, and tunnels to thicken their defense. This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offense against ISIS-K,” said Nicholson.

The MOAB strike killed dozens of people, including several important ISIS-K commanders. “Our latest reports indicate that four main commanders are among the 94 people killed,” Afghan Army spokesman Maj. Sherin Aqa told Stars and Stripes. Aqa reported no civilian casualties.

“The United States takes the fight against ISIS very serious,” said White House spokesman Sean Spicer. “And in order to defeat the group, we must deny them operational space, which we did.”

President Donald Trump wouldn’t confirm whether he directly authorized the use of the MOAB; instead he reiterated his support for the military.

“Everybody knows what happened. And what I do is I authorize my military. We have the greatest military in the world, and they’ve done their job as usual. S we have given them total authorization, and that’s what they’re doing,” said Trump. “This was another very, very successful mission.”

When asked if the use of the MOAB served as a “message” to North Korea of the U.S.’s willingness to escalate its military actions, Trump replied, “I don’t know if this sends a message. It doesn’t make any difference if it does or not. North Korea is a problem. The problem will be taken care of.”

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