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MOAB strike: 90 IS fighters killed in Afghanistan

16 April 2017

Others are glad of their intervention, fearing that the alternative would be a return to the strict Islamist rule of the Taliban, ousted from power in 2001 but fighting a stubborn insurgency that is costing thousands of lives every year.

On Friday, the top US commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, defended the strike, saying the decision to use the bomb was based on military needs, not political reasons.

Now U.S. officials say militants affiliated to the Middle East-based Islamic State network have begun fortifying caves in the region in an effort to hold off joint operations by Afghan and U.S. forces.

Fox News is told that Gen. John Nicholson made the decision on his own.

The Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power, known as the "Father of all bombs" (FOAB), was developed by Russian Federation in 2007 and eclipses its U.S. rival in both power and efficiency.

Afghanistan has been experiencing significant political, social and security-related instability for decades, as terrorist organizations, including the Taliban and the Islamic State, both outlawed in Russian Federation, continue to stage attacks against civilian and military targets.

A USA official who monitored the attack said it was impossible to determine how many IS fighters might be buried in the underground complex.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he approved of the strike and that it was created to support Afghan and United States forces conducting clearance operations in the region. He said the bombing was necessary because the tunnel complex was extremely hard to penetrate, with some as deep as 40m.

"It was a strong position and four times we had operations (attacking the site) and it was not possible to advance", he said, adding that the road leading to the complex "was full of mines". The explosion lit up the whole night sky, he said.

"I was sleeping when we heard a loud explosion".

Military officials said then they hoped such a huge blast would rattle Iraqi troops and pressure them into surrendering or not even fighting. "I jumped from my bed and came out of my home".

Shah Wali, a 46-year-old Pakistani, was asleep when the American plane dropped its giant payload.

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"We were unable to see each other at home because of the excessive dust inside the room", he said.

"Daesh (IS) fighters are active in this area and have overrun our houses", said Achin resident Khair Mohammad, welcoming the bombardment.

He once said the invasion of Afghanistan was a mistake, though he later walked back that statement, saying he "always supported" USA involvement in the country. "If the government has permitted them to do this, that was wrong and it has committed a national treason".

The US estimates 600 to 800 IS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. The U.S. has concentrated heavily on combatting them while also supporting Afghan forces battling the Taliban.

"We have incredible leaders in the military, we have an incredible military and we're very proud of them, and this was another very, very successful mission", Trump said Thursday.

"I want a hundred times more bombings on this group", said Hakim Khan, 50, a resident of Achin district, the site of the blast.

In Helmand province, at least 11 civilians were killed and one wounded in two roadside bomb blasts late Friday evening, said Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor.

The office of President Ashraf Ghani said there was "close coordination" between the US military and Afghan government over the operation in Achin.

The Site Intelligence Group, which tracks extremist organizations, reported Friday on a statement from the Afghan Taliban condemning the USA for its "terrorist" attack.

The war in Afghanistan has largely slipped from public consciousness, replaced by the conflict in Syria and ongoing tensions over North Korea, but there are still around 8,400 USA troops in the country engaged in counterterrorism operations.

There are under 1,000 ISIS fighters in eastern Afghanistan.