The U.S. dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal on Islamic State positions in Afghanistan Thursday, a move the Trump administration said was aimed at denying the group’s freedom of movement.
The deep-penetrating Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb was used to reach “a system of tunnels and caves” used by the terrorists, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Thursday. He declined to say whether President Donald Trump personally ordered use of the weapon, known as a bunker-buster.
The 26,000-pound device, designated a GBU-43 bomb, was dropped in an area of Nangarhar Province controlled by Islamic State, according to a Defense Department statement. It marked the first use in combat of the weapon, sometimes nicknamed the Mother of All Bombs.
“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 Islamic State fighters and facilities, according to a statement from the headquarters of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
The move comes while the Trump administration is reviewing strategy in Afghanistan as Taliban forces continue to gain ground and Islamic State is establishing its own strongholds.