The U.S. military dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal in Afghanistan targeting Islamic State militants, marking the first-time it’s ever been used in combat.
Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump confirmed Thursday the bomb was dropped from a U.S aircraft on a cave complex said to be used by ISIS fighters in the Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan.
Referred to by U.S. forces as a Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB) and nicknamed the “Mother Of All Bombs,” news of the weapon’s use led to questions about what exactly it is.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a press conference Thursday the bomb, known as the GBU-43, was dropped 7 p.m. local time in Afghanistan.
“The GBU-43 is a large, powerful and accurately delivered weapon,” Spicer told reporters. “We targeted a system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters use to move around freely making it easier for them to target U.S. military advisers and Afghan forces in the area.”
According to officials at Eglin Air Force Base, located in Florida, the GBU-43 is a “21,600 pound, GPS-guided” weapon originally designed to be used as a deterrent against Iraq’s former leader Saddam Hussein.
During a test in 2003, the bomb created a mushroom cloud that could be seen 32 kilometres away from the blast, according to the air force.
The military information website Deagel says that each MOAB costs roughly US$16 million with the U.S. spending more $314 million on the production of the explosive.
WATCH: Spicer defers questions on ISIS attack in Afghanistan to Department of Defence
Thursday’s military action came hours after the Pentagon admitted an air strike in northern Syria mistakenly killed 18 allied fighters. U.S. Central Command said one of its partnered forces had mistakenly identified the target location as an ISIS position, but the strike instead killed 18 rebels from the Syrian Democratic Forces – backed by the U.S.-led coalition.
And last week, President Donald Trump ordered 59 Tomahawk missiles to hit a military airfield in Syria. Trump said the strike was in response to a chemical weapons attack by Bashar al-Assad on April 4 in the Syrian city of Khan Shikhoun.
Assad said reports that his regime was behind the attacks were “100 per cent fabrication.”
— With files from the Associated Press