NEW YORK (CBSMiami/CBSNews) — The U.S. dropped a bomb containing 11 tons of explosives on an ISIS cave complex in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province on the border with Pakistan on Thursday.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer opened Thursday’s daily briefing with confirmation.
“At around 7 p.m. local time in Afghanistan last night, the United States military used a GBU-43 weapon in Afghanistan. The GBU-43 is a large, powerful and accurately delivered weapon. We targeted a system of tunnels And caves that ISIS fighters used to move around freely, making it easier for them to target U.S. military advisers and Afghan forces in the area. 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. The United States took all precautions necessary to prevent civilian casualties and collateral damage as a result of the operation. Any further details, I would refer you to the Department of Defense on that.”
The GBU-43 is also known as the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), leading to its nickname as the “mother of all bombs.” It is the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal and has never before been used in combat.
“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,” the Pentagon said in a statement, using the term for the Islamic State’s Afghanistan branch.
The Afghanistan strike had been in the works for a number of months, according to CBS4 News. The weapon was brought into Afghanistan specifically for this mission.
General John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was required to get permission to use the weapon, but it’s unclear how far up the chain of command his request traveled.