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.
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.
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 Pentagon said the mission had been in the planning stages for months. However, they "did not have the information" on whether the mission was being planned during the previous Obama administration.
“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, 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.
A source said Donald Trump may have authorised the use of the bomb but he does not have to. There has been no official confirmation of the President’s involvement in the strike.
Central Command approval was required because the MOAB had to be moved across theatres to prepare for the mission.
The cargo aircraft used to drop the bomb was already located in Afghanistan prior to the mission.
There have been no assessments of civilian deaths as yet and it was not immediately clear how much damage the bomb did.
The U.S. military headquarters in Kabul said in a statement that the bomb was dropped at 7:32 p.m. local time Thursday on a tunnel complex in Achin district of Nangarhar province, where the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State group has been operating. .
The target was close to the Pakistani border. The U.S. estimates 600 to 800 IS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. The U.S. has concentrated heavily on combatting them while also supporting Afghan forces battling the Taliban.
The 'mother of all bombs' was developed and tested shortly before the 2003 Iraq war.
Retired Lt. Col. Rick Francona told CNN the blast would “feel like a nuclear weapon to anyone near the area".
Veteran General Mark Hertling told the broadcaster the "Air Force must have had a good target...normally smaller artillery could have been used”.
The remote border area with Pakistan has been known as a breeding ground for an Isis affiliate called IS Khorosan.
Source: The Independent
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