U.S. forces used their largest non-nuclear bomb for the first time in combat on Thursday, striking Islamic State militants in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province around 7:30 p.m. local time.
The strike was carried out “as part of ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS-K in Afghanistan in 2017,” according to a U.S. Central Command press release.
The military objective was to drop the bomb “and get it over and done with and get the ISIS forces killed off,” Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, said.
The bomb used is a GBU-43 or Massive Ordnance Air Blast, commonly referred to as the “mother of all bombs.” It contains 11 tons of explosives, according to The Associated Press.
It was chosen in an effort to “minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities,” the CENTCOM press release says.
“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in the release. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”