U.S. drops largest non-nuclear bomb for first time in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon confirmed on Thursday that the U.S. air force dropped a bomb containing 11 tons of explosives on a cave complex used by the Afghanistan branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) along the border with Pakistan.

The bomb is officially called a GBU-43 or Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), leading to its nickname as the “mother of all bombs.” The weapon is the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat.

An MC-130 aircraft dropped a GBU-43 bomb in eastern Afghanistan at 7pm local time, according to US Department of Defence.

The cargo aircraft used to drop the bomb was already located in Afghanistan prior to the mission, the CBS reported.

There have been no assessments of civilian deaths as yet and it was not immediately clear how much damage the bomb did.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at the daily press briefing that the strike targeted a “system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters used to move around freely.” He reiterated the U.S. “took all precautions necessary” to minimize civilian casualties.

Spicer declined to say whether President Trump personally approved the use of the bomb.

U.S. officials estimate approximately 800 ISIS fighters are active in Nangarhar province, down from a high of 2,000 since the group first gained a foothold in the area in 2015, NPR reported.