36 ISIS fighters confirmed dead after US MOAB strike on Afghanistan

36 ISIS fighters confirmed dead after US MOAB strike on Afghanistan
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

An estimated 36 Islamic State militants were killed in Afghanistan on Thursday after the United States military dropped a massive, 21,600-pound bomb on the region, the Afghan defense ministry told Reuters.

The Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb — known as the "mother of all bombs" in the defense community — was dropped as part of a coordinated effort to target a network of ISIS tunnels in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province.

Nicknamed MOAB, the bomb is one of the largest non-nuclear munitions ever to be used in combat.

Defense ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said that no civilians were harmed in the attack.

"No civilian has been hurt and only the base, which [ISIS] used to launch attacks in other parts of the province, was destroyed," he said in a statement.

In a separate statement obtained by Reuters, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's office said that the strike was the result of a careful joint operation between Afghan and international troops to target the Islamic State, which had recently established a stronghold in the mountainous area where the bomb was dropped.

"Afghan and foreign troops closely coordinated this operation and were extra cautious to avoid any civilian casualties," the statement said.

But Afghanistan's former president, Hamid Karzai, condemned the use of the bomb on Twitter.

"This is not the war on terror, but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and dangerous weapons," he wrote

The Taliban also condemned the use of the bomb. "Using this massive bomb cannot be justified and will leave a material and psychological impact on our people," the radical Islamic faction said in a statement.

The U.S. has been steadily ramping up its air campaign against Islamic fundamentalist groups like ISIS and the Taliban in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2017.