International desk – The US military said that it dropped a 9,800kg bomb on a tunnel complex used by Islamic State militants in Afghanistan.
The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), known as “the mother of all bombs”, is the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used by the US in a conflict, according to BBC.
The Pentagon said it was dropped from a US aircraft in Nangarhar province. It, however, did not report about the casualty in the attack.
The news came hours after the Pentagon admitted an air strike in Syria mistakenly killed 18 rebels.
It said a partnered force had mistakenly identified the target location as an IS position, but the strike on 11 April had killed rebels from the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is backed by Washington.
The strike in Afghanistan follows last week’s death of a US special forces soldier fighting IS in Nangarhar.
The GBU-43/B bomb was dropped in Achin district on Thursday evening local time, the Pentagon said. It is more than nine meter in length.
It was first tested in 2003, but had not been deployed in combat before.
“We targeted a system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters use to move around freely, making it easier for them to target US military advisers and Afghan forces in the area,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, using another name for IS.
He said necessary precautions were taken to prevent civilian casualties and “collateral damage”.
Achin district governor Esmail Shinwari told the BBC there were no civilian casualties because no civilians lived in the area.
Earlier Mr Shinwari told a French news agency that the explosion was the biggest he had ever seen and that huge flames “engulfed the area”.
The US has not yet confirmed the results of the strike in detail, but a local official said that many IS militants were killed, allegedly including the brother of a senior leader.
US President Donald Trump called it “another successful job”.
IS announced the establishment of its Khorasan branch – an old name for Afghanistan and surrounding areas – in January 2015. It was the first time that IS had officially spread outside the Arab world.
It was the first major militant group to directly challenge the Afghan Taliban’s dominance over the local insurgency.
However, experts say it has struggled to build a wide political base and the indigenous support it expected in Afghanistan.
It has also steadily lost territory and fighters to US air strikes and an assault by Afghan forces on the ground.
Estimates about IS’s numerical strength inside Afghanistan vary, ranging from several hundred to a few thousand fighters. US forces say their number has been cut in half since early 2016 due to military operations, according to BBC.