Pentagon officials on Friday said that the United States commander, who ordered the use of 'mother of all bombs' to attack an Islamic State (ISIS) stronghold in Afghanistan, did not need US President Donald Trump's approval to set off the massive bomb.
The officials said that Gen. John Nicholson has standing authority to use the bomb, which is called the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB). MOAB, also known as the 'mother of all bombs,' is the largest non-nuclear bomb ever dropped in any combat and had been in Afghanistan since January.
The Pentagon officials were not allowed to speak on the subject publicly, and requested anonymity, the Associated Press reported.
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The US military said that the bomb, set off in the eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan on Thursday, was aimed to destroy a tunnel and cave complex used by ISIS militants in the region. Afghan officials on Saturday said that at least 90 ISIS militants have been killed till now in the attack.
"At least 92 Daesh (IS) fighters were killed in the bombing," Achin district governor Esmail Shinwari told AFP on Saturday. Nangarhar provincial spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said the toll stood at 90.
Shinwari said that there were "no military and civilian casualties" in the incident.
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Gen. John Nicholson also wanted to send out a message through the bombing to leaders of the ISIS affiliates in the region about the seriousness of his determination to eliminate the extremist group, a Pentagon official told AP.
The official also added that the use of the massive bomb had nothing to do with sending a message of the US' determination to any country, including North Korea.
President Trump had praised the US military after it dropped the GBU-43 bomb in Afghanistan, calling the mission "a great success."
According to the US Air Force, a MOAB costs about $170,000 to build. It did not provide any details on how many of these bombs exist.