Published: Sun, April 16, 2017
Research | By Francis Brooks

USA military defends dropping 'mother of all bombs' on ISIS in Afghanistan

In eastern Afghanistan Thursday evening, USA forces deployed the most powerful conventional munition in the country's arsenal, second only to a nuclear bomb, targeting a series of caves used by ISIS fighters the Achin district of Nangarhar province.

The U.S. estimates 600 to 800 IS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. United States and Afghan forces had been unable to advance because ISIS - which has expanded into Afghanistan in recent years - had mined the area with explosives.

He said the US had persistent surveillance over the area "before, during and after" the operation, and they see no evidence of civilian casualties.

Afghan officials say 36 ISIS fighters were killed in the strike.

One was to destroy a network of tunnels and caves used by Isis in Afghanistan, the new entrant competing with the Taliban for the Islamist franchise there.

Defending his decision to deploy the bomb, General John Nicholson, top USA commander in Afghanistan, called Islamic State fighters "animals" for conducting attacks against targets like a hospital in Kabul.

The Afghan authorities have revised the death toll from Thursday's Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) attack by the US on Daesh hideouts to 92 on Saturday.

Fox News is told that Gen. John Nicholson made the decision on his own.

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Public reaction to Thursday's strike has been mixed, with some residents near the blast praising Afghan and USA troops for pushing back the Islamic State militants. If the Afghan government requested USA support against Isis in Nangarhar province, it must believe that the strike will strengthen it, but the opposition to the bombing from former President Hamid Karzai suggests that there other possible readings of Afghanistan's true interests.

Wali said dozens of other villagers also came out of homes and later he went near the border, where he met with other residents.

"We were unable to see each other at home because of the excessive dust inside the room", he said.

Mufti Khan, a resident of Achin in Nangarhar, said, "It was between seven or eight local time when it happened. So, we have given them total authorization". The US has concentrated heavily on combatting them while also supporting Afghan forces battling the Taliban. The statement said it is the responsibility of Afghans, not the USA, to remove Islamic State from the country. President Trump called Thursday's operation a "very, very successful mission".

Inamullah Meyakhil, spokesman for the central hospital in eastern Nangarhar province, said the facility had received no dead or wounded from the attack.

District Gov. Ismail Shinwari said there is no civilian property near the airstrike location.

But former President Hamid Karzai accused the United States of using Afghanistan as "a testing ground for new and unsafe weapons". The official said Nicholson wanted to demonstrate to leaders of the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan the seriousness of his determination to eliminate the group as a military threat.

The U.S. maintains over 8,000 troops in Afghanistan, training local forces and conducting counterterrorism operations. No one has any idea who might replace Mr Assad, or whether a weaker Assad regime means a stronger Isis - just as no one has any idea whether hitting Isis in Afghanistan strengthens the Taliban.

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