The 22,000-pound GBU-43 bomb dubbed “the Mother of All Bombs” was dropped from a MC-130 plane in Nangarhar province, targeting underground facilities and a system of tunnels used by terrorists.
The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) is a large-yield conventional non-nuclear bomb which was considered to be the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever developed at the time of its creation. The cost of a single MOAB is $16 million.
This was the first time the bomb was dropped in a combat action. It has been in service since 2003.
US President Donald Trump declined to say whether he personally authorized the weapon’s use on Thursday, but said that he had given US generals expanded authority to carry out attacks on Daesh as they see fit.
On Friday, the Afghan Defense Ministry reported that aid that at least 36 Daesh militants were killed in the bomb attack.
“Millions of dollars were spent and what’s the result? Success depends on the goals achieved. But what was the point in using such a powerful weapon? The fact that only 36 militants were killed proves the very low efficiency of the strike,” Andrei Krasov, deputy chair of the Russian parliamentary defense committee, told Sputnik.
However, later on Friday, it was reported that over 80 militants were killed as a result of the bomb drop.
At least 82 militants were killed as a result of the bomb strike, The New York Times reported on Friday citing Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the Nangarhar provincial governor’s office.
The Tora Bora Caves
Whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden wrote on Twitter that the bomb dropped in the “middle of nowhere” in Afghanistan cost $314 million, referring to the overall development costs of the MOAB project.
In addition, Snowden pointed to the fact that the Tora Bora underground system of caves and tunnels is located in Nangarhar where the bomb was dropped.
Tora Bora (Black Cave in Pashto) was known to be a stronghold of the Taliban, used by military forces against the Soviet Union in 1980s. Its tunnels are 500 meters deep and have a total length of over 25 kilometers.
Tora Bora had natural caverns that were expanded into a CIA-financed complex for the Mujahedeen. Its labyrinth of tunnels houses arms depots, bomb shelters and dwelling rooms.
“Tora Bora was a fortress of snow-capped peaks, steep valleys and fortified caves. Its miles of tunnels, bunkers and base camps, dug deeply into the steep rock walls, had been part of a CIA-financed complex built for the mujahedeen,” according to a 2005 article in the New York Times.
According to the report, Tora Bora was also used by Osama bin Laden as “his final refuge” from the American war in Afghanistan.
Sources told the newspaper that during the Soviet invasion mujahedeen commander Yunis Khalis and several other commanders received the third-largest share of the more than $3 billion of weapons and funds from the CIA. Some of those resources were used to build the tunnel system.
“It was a key operational center for Osama bin Laden now. The caves were so close that Khalis could see them from the verandah of his sprawling stucco home,” the article read.
Moscow Talks on Afghanistan
The US bomb attack came prior to a 12-party peace conference on Afghanistan expected to kick off Friday in Moscow. The talks involved representatives from Afghanistan as well as Iran, China, India and some other countries.
Russian Foreign Ministry who earlier met with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson said that Moscow hoped that US officials would participate in the conference. However, Washington refused to send its representatives to Moscow.
The Taliban also rejected to participate in the Moscow talks. Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the Taliban does not support Russia-backed peaceful initiatives on Afghanistan.
According to the Washington Post, the White House is concerned that the leading role in the Afghan political settlement may be taken by Russia and Iran.
“Iran and Russia have stepped up challenges to US power in Afghanistan, American and Afghan officials say, seizing on the uncertainty of future US policy to expand ties with the Taliban and weaken the country’s Western-backed government,” the newspaper reported.
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