The United States dropped the “mother of all bombs” — the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the American arsenal — on an Islamic State cave complex in Afghanistan on Thursday, the Pentagon said, unleashing a weapon so massive that it had to be dropped from the rear of a cargo plane.
The strike was the first combat use of what is formally named the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast.
“What I do is I authorize my military,” President Donald Trump said after a meeting with emergency workers at the White House. He called the bombing “another very, very successful mission.”
The Pentagon gave no casualty totals for the bombing, part of an intense air campaign against the militant group in Afghanistan. But in a separate announcement, the Pentagon said that an airstrike in Syria by the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State there had killed 18 Syrian fighters allied with the United States, raising concerns about whether the White House is applying any rigor to the process of approving airstrikes in hot spots from Afghanistan to Syria.
The Syria strike — on Tuesday near the town of Tabqah, which Syrian fighters and American advisers are trying to capture — was the third American-led airstrike in a month that may have killed civilians or allies. Earlier bombing runs killed or wounded scores of civilians in a mosque complex in Syria and in a building in the west of Mosul, Iraq.
“We have the greatest military in the world,” Trump said. “We have given them total authorization, and that’s what they’re doing, and frankly, that’s why they’ve been so successful lately.”
The number of civilian casualties reported in American-led strikes in Iraq and Syria has increased since Trump took office, and March was the deadliest month for civilians ever recorded by Airwars, a group that tracks bombings. Reports of civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria jumped to 3,471 from 1,782 the month before, the group said.