(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Department of Defense released video Friday showing the deployment of a 22,000-pound bomb known as the "mother of all bombs" against a complex of ISIS-controlled caves in eastern Afghanistan.
The Pentagon on Thursday announced the use of the bomb, formally known as the GBU-43, or massive ordnance air blast (MOAB) bomb -- the first time it has been utilized since its development in 2003. In a statement, U.S. Forces - Afghanistan wrote, "The strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. forces conducting clearing operations in the area."
The nearly 30-second, black-and-white video shows a target aimed at a valley surrounded by mountainous terrain. Within a few seconds, a black speck appears at the top of the screen, dashing straight down into the valley.
The bomb explodes upon striking its target, releasing a massive shockwave across the valley and thick, black smoke. The smoke then rises and plumes into a huge mushroom cloud.
The MOAB bomb is the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat and one of the largest bombs in the U.S. arsenal.
The bomb was dropped from the rear of an MC-130 aircraft. The MOAB is so large that it is carried in the cargo hold of the aircraft then rolled out the plane's rear door toward its target.
"At 7:32 p.m. local time today, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan conducted a strike on an ISIS-K tunnel complex in Achin district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, as part of ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS-K in Afghanistan in 2017," U.S. Forces – Afghanistan said in a statement Thursday. ISIS-K refers to ISIS-Khorasan, an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan that mainly operates in the eastern part of the country. Achin is right on the border with Pakistan.
During a press conference in Kabul on Friday, U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces - Afghanistan, said the caves and tunnels targeted by the MOAB bomb were being used by ISIS as a "sanctuary inside Afghanistan" to move around the battlefield and shield themselves from Afghan and U.S. forces.
Nicholson said the U.S. coordinated with the Afghan government on this operation. There have been no reports of civilian causalities, he added.
"This was the right weapon against this target," Nicholson told reporters. "The purpose of this operation was to eliminate that sanctuary."
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