Afghans: US blast killed 36 ISIS militants, no civilians

US MOAB Attack In Afghanistan

US MOAB Attack In Afghanistan

English edition of Asharq Al-Awsat - the world's premier pan-Arab daily. He also ordered a US Navy aircraft carrier group to the Korean Peninsula in a surprise diversion apparently threatening military action against Pyongyang.

The officials say Gen. John Nicholson has standing authority to use the largest non-nuclear bomb ever dropped in combat.

US special forces and Afghan commandos are now inspecting the site, Nicholson said, adding, "the weapon achieved its intended objective".

Afghan officials said 36 militants were killed in the strike in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistan border, where the United States military previously estimated ISIS had 600 to 800 active fighters.

The U.S. military headquarters in Kabul said in a statement that the bomb was dropped at 7:32 p.m. local time Thursday.

"I was sleeping when we heard a loud explosion. It was an earsplitting blast", said Shah Wali, 46, who lives in the village of Goor Gari, 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the border with Nangarhar. "When I came out of my house I saw a large fire and the whole area was burning".

U.S. President Donald Trump lauded Thursday's bombing as "another successful job".

Addressing the Afghan public, Nicholson said all precautions were taken to prevent civilian casualties.

The deaths have not been independently verified, but ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said no civilians were harmed in the massive blast that targeted a network of caves and tunnels.

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He was using an Arabic term that refers to Islamic State, which has established a small stronghold in eastern Afghanistan and launched deadly attacks on the capital, Kabul.

The GPS-guided munition is known as the "mother of all bombs" and is capable of destroying an area equivalent to nine city blocks.

The MOAB was packed with 11 tonnes of explosives and had a 300m blast zone when it was dropped on the Achin district of Nangarhar province.

News of the bombing came hours after the Pentagon admitted an air strike in Syria mistakenly killed 18 USA allied rebels.

"Afghan and foreign troops closely coordinated this operation and were extra cautious to avoid any civilian casualties", it said. Former President Hamid Karzai, the coalition's primary partner from 2001 to 2014, accused the USA of using his country as a "testing ground" for new weapons.

"This is not the war on terror, but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and unsafe weapons", he said on social media network Twitter.

Some analysts questioned the need to use a bomb of such destructive power given the group's lack of momentum.

However, they said they "did not have the information" on whether the mission was being planned during the previous Obama administration.

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