The Daily Beast reports: U.S. Special Operations Forces dropped one of the world’s most powerful non-nuclear bombs on ISIS fighters in eastern Afghanistan on April 13, defense officials told The Daily Beast on Thursday.
The bombing could mark a shocking escalation of America’s war in Afghanistan—one that places more civilians in greater danger than ever before, though military officials insist they wouldn’t have acted if they had spotted civilians nearby.
American forces were trying to root out deeply entrenched ISIS fighters when a U.S. Air Force MC-130 commando transport dropped the Massive Ordinance Air Blast munition in Achin district in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan at 7:32 in the evening, local time.
ISIS has an estimated 600 to 800 fighters in Afghanistan, many of them in Achin, according to Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump. One U.S. commando died in a firefight in the district just a few days ago, on April 8.
But this was no act of retribution, the Pentagon insisted. “This operation was planned prior to the loss of a 7th Group Green Beret last week,” U.S. military spokesman Navy Capt. Bill Salvin explained from Kabul.
Stump said the massive bombing could hinder ISIS in Afghanistan. “It really restricts their freedom of movement.”
Pentagon officials say the generals have had the authority to whatever ordnance they had in theatre against ISIS since January last year, but President Donald Trump’s comfort level with delegating new decision-making on counterterrorism strikes surely played into their thinking. The general “ordered” the weapon for use in during the Obama Administration, according to Slavin, who said it was only delivered in January this year.
“Appropriate notifications were made. This is not a new authority. This does not reflect a new policy or authority,” U.S. Central Command spokesman Col. John Thomas emailed The Daily Beast. [Continue reading…]