IN its second major display of military might in one week, the US dropped its most powerful non-nuclear bomb on ISIS positions in a remote part of Afghanistan on Thursday.
Afghanistan officials said 36 militants were killed in the 21,600-pound bomb strike in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistan border, where the US military previously estimated ISIS had 600 to 800 active fighters.
The GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb (MOAB) was dropped Thursday evening on a network of fortified underground tunnels that ISIS had been using to stage attacks on government forces.
The GPS-guided munition is known as the ‘mother of all bombs’ and is capable of destroying an area equivalent to nine city blocks.
The blast destroyed three underground tunnels as well as weapons and ammunition, but no civilians were hurt, Afghan and US officials have said.
Residents in nearby villages said the blast shattered their windows and that it created a boom so loud that they feared their own homes had been bombed.
The US bomb was dropped as Washington comes under increased scrutiny over its military actions in the Middle East – three US-led airstrikes in the past month that have killed civilians or allies.
On Tuesday, the US-led coalition in Syria killed 18 of its own allies from the Syrian Democratic Forces, in what it described as a misdirected airstrike. The US is also investigating two of its own strikes in Iraq and Syria, which Iraqi officials and activists in Syria say killed dozens of civilians.
But US President Donald Trump said on Thursday the Afghanistan bombing was ‘another successful job.’
The Afghanistan bombing – along with the US’ first airstrikes against the Syrian regime last week – mark a dramatic change in attitude for Trump, who advocated an isolationist, America-first foreign policy during his election campaign.
In just the last week, Trump has overseen the use of some of the most powerful weaponry in the US arsenal.
He once said the invasion of Afghanistan was a mistake, though he later walked back that statement, saying that he ‘always supported’ US involvement in the country.