Afghanistan officials said 36 Islamic State militants were killed when the U.S. dropped the “mother of all bombs” on a tunnel complex Thursday.
The Afghanistan Ministry of Defense added in a statement Friday that there were no civilian casualties and that several Islamic State caves and ammunition caches were destroyed.
The GBU-43B, a 21,000-pound conventional bomb, was deployed in Nangarhar Province close to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. The MOAB — Massive Ordnance Air Blast — is also known as the “Mother Of All Bombs.” It was first tested in 2003, but hadn’t been used in combat before Thursday.
President Trump told media Thursday afternoon that “this was another successful mission” and he gave the military total authorization.
Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said the bomb had been brought to Afghanistan “some time ago” for potential use. The bomb explodes in the air, creating air pressure that can make tunnels and other structures collapse. It can be used at the start of an offensive to soften up the enemy, weakening both its infrastructure and morale.
“As [ISIS’] losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against [ISIS].”