MOAB strike: U.S. military defend use of massive bomb in Afghanistan

"The number of Daesh fighters killed in the United States bomb in Achin district jumped to 94, including four commanders", Nangarhar provincial spokesman Attaullah Khogiani told CNN, using an alternative name for ISIS.

The statement by the spokesperson for the governor of Nangarhar came after an Afghan Ministry of Defense official said on Friday that ongoing clearance and assessment of the bomb site in the Achin district of Nangarhar indicated that the number of dead could rise.

Spicer said the United States "takes the fight against Isis very seriously" and insisted the military took "all precautions necessary to prevent civilian casualties and collateral damage as a result of the operation".

Although its presence in Afghanistan is smaller than that of the country's main insurgent group, the Taliban; IS's local branch - the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - in Khorasan Province (ISIL-K) numbers some 600-800 fighters, U.S. officials say.

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb - better known as the "Mother Of All Bombs" - hit IS hideouts in Achin district in eastern Nangarhar province on Thursday.

"This was the right weapon against the right target", Gen. John Nicholson, commander for USA forces in Afghanistan, said at a news conference.

Before the strike, CBS New correspondent David Martin says there were an estimated 600 to 800 ISIS fighters in Afghanistan.

"This is a very specialized weapon, we don't have very many of them, you can only use them in a very narrow set of circumstances", said Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

President Ashraf Ghani threw his support behind the bombardment, saying it was "designed to support the efforts of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and USA forces conducting clearance operations in the region". No civilians were affected by the explosion, the ministry said.

US and Afghan forces have been battling the Taliban insurgency for more than 15 years. The US action comes at a time when there was a huge build-up of IS forces in Afghanistan.

He said: "If the USA comes with reckless military manoeuvres then we will confront it with a pre-emptive strike".

USA president Donald Trump called Thursday's operation a "very, very successful mission".

Teaching numerous courses on strategy and counterinsurgency at Texas Tech University, Lewis - considered an expert based on his academic and military experience - said the GBU was created to use blast "overpressure" waves against soft targets.

In reality, the blast was around three miles away, its massive impact bigger than any before seen in the region.

Residents of Achin said they had got used to seeing militants climbing up and down the mountain, making occasional visits to the village.

The United States has steadily intensified its air campaign against Islamic State and Taliban militants in Afghanistan, with the Air Force deploying almost 500 weapons in the first three months of 2017, up from 300 in the corresponding 2016 period.

The top USA commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, said it was an operational decision to support a joint U.S.

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

While the attack was supported by the Afghan government, former president Hamid Karzai said it represented an "inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and unsafe weapons".

Cancian added that while sending a message to Syria or North Korea could have been among the secondary factors considered, they would not have been the main reason for using this type of weapon.

  • Leroy Wright