US military uses MOAB to combat ISIS in Afghanistan

By Zachary Sobol
Staff Writer

Around 94 ISIS fighters were killed when the U.S. military used the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb to destroy an ISIS-controlled cave and tunnel system in Afghanistan on April 13, CNN reported.

The weapon is considered to be the most powerful bomb that is not nuclear and is often referred to as the “mother of all bombs,” according to Vox. The weapon weighs 21,600 pounds, is 30 feet long and has the power to destroy an area the size of nine city blocks. It was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft at 7:32 p.m. local time, CNN reported.

MOAB is the most powerful non-nuclear bomb. (AP Photo)

According to the same source, the destroyed ISIS cave and tunnel system is located in the Achin district of the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, which is considered to be a rural part of the country that borders with Pakistan.

The Achin District is a center of activity for ISIS-Khorosan, which is the name ISIS uses for its Afghanistan sector, according to Vox.

“Don’t be fooled by the claim circulating in some quarters that the explosive yield of the MOAB rivals that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The reported yield of the MOAB is approximately 11 tons. The Hiroshima bomb was approximately 15 Kilotons,” said Kingston Reif, the director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, according to Vox.

General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, approved the use of the bomb. This is the first time the MOAB has been used in the battlefield, CNN reported.

According to the same source, MOAB was designed in 2003 to be used in the Iraq War for “psychological operations” in the hope that the blast would scare the Iraqi troops into surrender.

“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Nicholson said, according to CNN. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K. U.S. forces took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with this strike. U.S. Forces will continue offensive operations until ISIS-K is destroyed in Afghanistan.”

ISIS’s forces have dropped by 75 percent since 2015 and has lost a tremendous amount of its territory, according to Vox.

U.S. military officials believe that ISIS-K has 600 to 800 fighters located in Afghanistan, but is primarily located in two to three districts in southern Nangarhar, according to CNN.

Military officials also believe that ISIS-K is made up of terror groups like the Pakistani Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, CNN reported.

According to the same source, three thousand families have fled the area since ISIS established itself in the region just last year.