'Right time' to use huge bomb in Afghanistan: US general
- Author: Leroy Wright Apr 22, 2017,
Apr 22, 2017, 17:38
The US dropped the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb on Afghanistan on Thursday [Friday NZ Time].
The unprecedented attack triggered global shockwaves, with some condemning the use of Afghanistan as a "testing ground for the weapon", and against a militant group that is not considered a threat as big as the Taliban.
At a village about 3 miles (5 km) from the remote, mountainous area where the bomb was dropped, homes and shops appeared unaffected by the blast, a Reuters witness said.
In addition, said an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the attack also reinforces the message that US President Donald Trump has given his military commanders freer rein than did his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Afghan and US forces were at the scene of the strike and reported that the "weapon achieved its intended goal,", Nicholson said.
The MOAB, developed for use in the Iraq war and first tested in 2003, is dropped from an aircraft on a pallet.
The commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, defended the use of the bomb and confirmed the target of the strike was the network of tunnels that IS fighters use to move around and protect themselves from Afghan and USA forces.
"I have been saying this for 10 years".
Away from Achin, reactions were mixed.
The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said the loyalists of the terror group have suffered heavy casualties in the airstrike as it insisted on close coordination between the Afghan forces and the foreign based in Afghanistan.
But former president Hamid Karzai condemned the use of the weapon on Afghan soil.
The massive bomb was dropped after fighting intensified over the past week and US-backed ground forces struggled to advance on the area. Almost 100 Isis militants died during the strike, including four senior leaders, Afghan officials said on Saturday morning.
In Afghanistan, the public reaction to the bomb attack could have unsettling consequences.
Experts said that while the use of the bomb was likely a technical decision of matching the most effective ordnance to a specific target - tunnels and caves in an unpopulated area - its shock waves would have been sent not only to IS fighters, but also to North Korea, which conceals its nuclear weapons program deep underground, and Iran, which has a large uranium enrichment facility buried in a granite mountain.
"This is all imposed on Afghanistan for proxy war".
In March, U.S. forces conducted 79 "counterterror strikes" against Islamic State in Nangarhar, killing as many as 200 militants, according to the U.S. military command in Kabul.
Last year, air strikes by worldwide forces caused at least 127 civilian deaths and 108 injuries, up from 103 deaths and 67 injuries in 2015, the United Nations said.