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US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan

A GBU-43/B on display at the US Air Force Armament Museum in Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

The US military has dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in the American arsenal on an area of eastern Afghanistan known to be populated by Daesh (ISIL) terrorists, according to the US Defense Department.

A GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), also known as the "mother of all bombs," was dropped at 7:32 pm local time Thursday, the Pentagon said.

The Pentagon confirmed the strike was the first time the enormous bomb had been used in combat.

The MOAB weighs about 22,000 pounds (10,000 kg) and is the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever designed. It was developed during the US war on Iraq and is intended to target large below-surface areas.

The bomb was dropped on ISIL tunnels in Nangarhar province by an MC-130 aircraft, operated by US Air Force Special Operations Command, according to the Pentagon.

Military experts say the blast would “feel like a nuclear weapon to anyone near the area."

The "Air Force must have had a good target...normally smaller artillery could have been used,” retired US Army General Mark Hertling told CNN.

"As (ISIL-Khorasan's) losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense," said General John Nicholson, who heads US Forces Afghanistan.

"This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIL-K," he added.

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ISIL is suspected of carrying out several attacks against Shias in Afghanistan. According to the US intelligence, the Takfiri terrorist group is mostly active in Nangarhar and its neighboring Kunar province. There are thought to be between 700 to 1,500 Daesh members operating in the country.

Afghanistan is still suffering from insecurity and violence years after the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The military invasion removed the Taliban from power, but their militancy continues to this day.

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