The US and Britain on October 7, 2001, launched a first wave of air strikes against Afghanistan. REUTERS/USAF handout
The US has deployed the largest non-nuclear bomb in its inventory on an ISIS target in a remote part of far northeast Afghanistan,according to CNN analyst Barbara Starr.
Four US officials with direct knowledge of the mission said the US had dropped the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, aka the “Mother of All Bombs” or “MOAB,” over the Achin district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, which borders northwest Pakistan.
The MOAB, which was developed during the Iraq war, is the US’s largest non-nuclear bomb and had not been used in combat until now. It weighs 21,000 pounds and was dropped a little after 7 p.m. local time on Thursday.
“This is a weapon that would be used against a large footprint on the ground,” Starr said on CNN. The target in question was reportedly an ISIS complex with a camp and tunnels and where personnel were assembling.
The area is very close to the Pakistan border, Starr said, and “is still a border that is not really controlled.”
“And they have seen ISIS develop on the Afghanistan side of the this border,” she added.
“At 7:32 pm local time today, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan conducted a strike on an ISIS-K tunnel complex in Achin district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, as part of ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS-K in Afghanistan in 2017,” US Central Command said in a statement.
“The strike used a GBU-43 bomb dropped from a U.S. aircraft,” the statement said. “The strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities.”
“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said in the statement, referring to the ISIS branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan, ISIS-Khorasan. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”
The MOAB’s deployment comes just a few days after a US Special Forces operator was killed in the same region of the country during operations against ISIS.
“The soldier was mortally wounded late Saturday during an operation in Nangarhar Province” in eastern Afghanistan, US Navy Captain Bill Salvin said on Twitter on April 8.
The US-led war in Afghanistan will enter its 16th year in 2017.
The US has deployed heavy ordnance in the country before. In November 2001, during the initial invasion of Afghanistan, the US dropped “daisy cutter” bombs — which weighed 15,000 pounds and were first used to clear helicopter landing zones in the jungles of Vietnam — on Taliban positions.
You can see video footage of the MOAB below: