On April 13, 2017, the United States dropped the most powerful non-nuclear bomb that it has ever used. The strike targeted a series of caves in Afghanistan utilized by the Islamic State. Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry, told Bloomberg that at least 36 ISIS militants were killed in the aTTack. According to Afghan and US oFFIcials, the blast destroyed three underground tunnels that contained weapons and ammunition. They also confirmed that no civilians were hurt.
The bomb’s technical name is the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb, but it is more commonly referred to as “the Mother of All Bombs.” The bomb weighs 21,600 pounds, containing 11,000 pounds of explosives, and is released from a MC- 130 aircraft. The bomb is then slowed by a parachute, and detonated prior to impact with the ground, thus creating a larger blast radius and therefore maximizes the damage on the target.
The caves that were targeted are in the Ahin district of the Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. The United States military has been actively fighting ISIS in the region as well as supporting Afghan troops in their fight against the Taliban. The US has estimated that there are 600 to 800 ISIS fighters located in the region. During the week prior to the attack, US Army Special Forces soldier, Staff Sgt. Mark R.
De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood Maryland was killed fighting against ISIS in the same province.
Gen. John Nicolson told CNN, “This was the right weapon against the right target.”
Ashraf Ghani, the President of Afghanistan, approved the blast on the basis that it supported Afghan and US forces. In recent years ISIS has expanded into this Ahin part of the region, according to Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the US. Over 3,000 civilian families had left the district due to the increased ISIS control. This made for a civilian free militant zone, which is what led to the
US deeming this a feasible location to attack. The war in Afghanistan has escaped the public eye due to increased tensions with Russia and the Syrian conflict. However, the US still has roughly 8,400 troops in Afghanistan. This number does not include the NATO effort that continues to assist Afghan military and police forces in the region. Both groups will continue to lead counterterrorism missions in the region, as they try to win the war against ISIS.