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U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Thursday struck an I.S. tunnel in Afghanistan with MOAB

A GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb strikes an ISIS-K cave and tunnel systems in the Achin district of the Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan at 7:32 p.m. local time April 13, 2017. The strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities. ISIS-K, also known as the Khorasan group, is based in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and is composed primarily of former members of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban. (DoD video)

WASHINGTON — U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Thursday struck an Islamic State tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan with “the mother of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the U.S. military, Pentagon officials said.

At least 90 militants from the Islamic State (IS) group were killed by a huge bomb dropped by the US in Afghanistan, a regional governor says.

A network of tunnels and caves was destroyed on Thursday evening local time, US officials said.

The death toll was confirmed to the BBC by Ismail Shinwary, the governor of Achin province within Nangarhar.

IS had earlier said it had not suffered any casualties in the blast.

The bomb, known officially as a GBU-43B, or massive ordnance air blast weapon, unleashes 11 tons of explosives. When it was developed in the early 2000s, the Pentagon did a formal review of legal justification for its combat use.

Scott Bradley, a senior history teacher at John Overton High School offered who has followed the Middle Eastern movements of the United States offered an explanation of the MOAB.  “The MOAB (Mother of all Bombs) weighs about 21,000lbs and the biggest difference between a nuclear bomb and a conventional bomb is that a nuclear bomb will create an after effect of huge amounts of radiation and that the potential destruction effect is much greater and a nuclear bomb will be able to kill in a much more thorough manner than a conventional bomb. The MOAB type of bomb has never been used before.”

The U.S. military headquarters in Kabul said in a statement that the bomb was dropped at 7:32 p.m. local time Thursday on a tunnel complex in Achin district of Nangarhar province, where the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State group has been operating. The target was close to the Pakistani border.

The U.S. estimates 600 to 800 IS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. The U.S. has concentrated heavily on combatting them while also supporting Afghan forces battling the Taliban. Just last week a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier, Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Maryland, was killed in action in Nangarhar. “As far as we know no civilian casualties have been recorded due to this bombing.” said Bradley

“Although the MOAB weapon leaves a large footprint, it is discriminate and requires a deliberate launching toward the target,” the review said, using the acronym for the bomb.

According to the BBC, “no civilians were killed in the explosion”, Mr Shinwary said. The Chief Executive of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, said the attack had been carried out in co-ordination with his government and “great care had been taken to avoid civilian harm”.

In its 2003 review of the legality of using the bomb, the Pentagon concluded that it could not be called an indiscriminate killer under the Law of Armed Conflict. “ ironically during world war II people remember japan for the nuclear bombings but actually we did more damage with normal bombs than nuclear bombs which means more people died from other bombs in japan than the nuclear ones.” said Bradley

Al Weimorts, the creator of the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (pictured left), and Joseph Fellenz, lead model maker, look over the prototype before it was painted and tested. Courtesy photo

Adam Stump, a Pentagon spokesman, said the bomb was dropped from a U.S. MC-130 special operations transport. He said the bomb had been brought to Afghanistan “some time ago” for potential use.

Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a written statement that the strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. forces conducting clearing operations in the Achin area “while maximizing the destruction” of IS fighters and facilities. He said IS has been using improvised explosive devices, bunkers and tunnels to strengthen its defenses. “I have looked at international websites and they had no response, but will Russia use it as a point of hypocrisy of us pointing at gas weapons with not a lot of people that died in the gas attack 30-60 maybe it was not a ​​astronautical number, so here we are dropping a massive bomb could russia use this to say here the united states are dropping a huge bomb that has never been used before.” said Bradley

“This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K,” he added, using the U.S. military’s acronym for the IS affiliate.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said IS fighters had used the tunnels and caves in Achin to maneuver freely.

“The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did,” Spicer said.

“Lets face it dead is dead whether you died from a nuclear explosion or a conventional bomb your just pretty sad that you’re dead.” Bradley

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