In order to clear out a network of tunnels used by various militant groups including ISIS, the US dropped a massive non nuclear bomb the likes of which has never been used before. Though formally named, GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) it has been since nicknamed, “Mother Of All Bombs”. It stuck Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan at 7.32pm local time on Thursday and reportedly killed 36 ISIS members; it also successfully destroyed three tunnels, as well as weapons and ammunition caches. According to an Afghan Defense Ministry spokesperson, there were no civilian casualties.
This bomb weights 21,600 pounds and contains almost 11 tons of explosive; it is 30ft long and has a blast radius of one mile. It is capable of vaporizing everything within a 300 meter radius from the point of impact. Though this weapon was first tested in 2003, this was the first time it was deployed in a battlefield. A MC-130 cargo plane was used to drop the bomb.
US military has been conducting offensive operations against the ISIS in the region since early March of this year, but this was the first time they encountered an obstacle in the form of a series of tunnels and IED belts. Pentagon has confirmed that the decision to bomb the tunnel complex was taken on the ground as this was the best weapon to clear the obstacle. There are 20 militant groups operating in the region which often work with each other. US officials believe that there are about 600 to 800 ISIS militants in Afghanistan, and the majority of this number is concentrated in the Nangarhar Province.
President Donald Trump called this operation a very successful one, he also suggested that he hadn’t ordered the strike personally but delegated the job to military officials. This bombing can be seen as the fulfillment of one of Trump’s campaign promises. About 17 months back he promised while talking about ISIS that after becoming President he ‘would bomb the s**t out of them’.
(Writing by Ananya Dutta; Editing by Zainab Asif)