MOAB makes impact against ISIS tunnels in Afghanistan
Friday video released by the Pentagon showed the “Mother of all Bombs” plummeting from the sky and exploding in eastern Afghanistan, as military officials said it flattened a cave-and-tunnel complex controlled by the Islamic State terror group.
The Department of Defense released the video Friday, less than a day after it dropped the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) atop the Achin district of Nangarhar province, which is close to the Afghan-Pakistan border. Officials said 39 ISIS fighters were killed.
The 30-second video, showed the 21,000-pound bomb – the largest non-nuclear weapon in the U.S. military arsenal – could be seen dropping before it exploded midair. Smoke quickly rose from the impact zone, which officials said was more than a mile wide.
The U.S. military headquarters in Kabul said in a statement that the bomb was dropped at 7:32 p.m. local time Thursday.
President Donald Trump, who said he authorized the attack, called it a “very, very successful mission.”
“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].”
The MOAB was first tested in 2003, but hadn’t been used in combat before Thursday.
The MOAB had to be dropped out of the back of a U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo plane due to its massive size.
“We kicked it out the back door,” one U.S. official told Fox News.
Ismail Shinwari, the governor of Achin district, said the U.S. attack was carried out in a remote mountainous area with no civilian homes nearby. He said there has been heavy fighting in the area in recent weeks between Afghan forces and ISIS militants.
The strike came just days after a Green Beret was killed fighting ISIS in Nangarhar, however, a U.S. defense official told Fox News the bombing had nothing to do with that casualty.
“It was the right weapon for the right target, and not in retaliation,” the official said.
The U.S. estimates that between 600 to 800 ISIS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. The U.S. has concentrated heavily on combating them, while also supporting Afghan forces battling the Taliban.