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US drops 'mother of all bombs' on ISIL in Afghanistan

Central Command says largest US non-nuclear bomb dropped on caves and bunkers used by ISIL in Afghanistan.

The United States has dropped a massive GBU-43 bomb, the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat, in eastern Afghanistan on a series of caves used by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), according to the Pentagon.

The bomb was dropped on Thursday from a MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said.

It is the largest non-nuclear bomb the US has ever used in combat.

Also known as the "mother of all bombs," the GBU-43 is a 21,600 9,797 kg GPS-guided munition and was first tested in March 2003, just days before the start of the Iraq war.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a press release that the strike was designed to minimise the risk to Afghan and US forces conducting clearing operations in the area.

General John Nicholson, the head of US and international forces in Afghanistan, said the bomb was used against caves and bunkers used by ISIL in Afghanistan, also known as ISIS-K.

"As ISIS-K losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense.

"This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K," Nicholson said in a statement.

ISIL's offshoot in Afghanistan, created in 2015, is also known as the "Khorasan Province".

US officials say intelligence suggests ISIL is based overwhelmingly in Nangarhar and neighbouring Kunar province.

Estimates of the group's strength in Afghanistan vary. US officials have said they believe it has only 700 fighters, but Afghan officials estimate it has closer to 1,500.

Western and Afghan security officials believe fighters frequently switch allegiances between armed groups, making it difficult to know who is to blame for violence.


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