By Naimatullah Karyab
Afghan authorities Saturday reported a jump in fatalities from the American military's largest non-nuclear bomb, declaring some 90 Islamic State fighters dead, as US-led ground forces sought to advance on their mountain hideouts.
Dubbed the "Mother Of All Bombs", the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) was unleashed in combat for the first time Thursday, hitting IS positions in a remote area of eastern Nangarhar province.
The unprecedented attack triggered global shock waves, with some condemning the use of Afghanistan as what they called a testing ground for the weapon, and against a militant group that is not considered a threat as big as the resurgent Taliban.
The bomb smashed IS's hideouts, a tunnel-and-cave complex that had been mined against conventional ground attacks, engulfing the remote area in a huge mushroom cloud and towering flames.
"At least 92 Daesh (IS) fighters were killed in the bombing," Achin district governor Esmail Shinwari told AFP on Saturday, adding that three tunnels that sheltered the insurgents had been destroyed.
Shinwari said that American and Afghan ground forces were slowly advancing on the mountainous area, which is blanketed with landmines, to clear the site, but there were still some pockets of resistance from insurgents.
"New fighters have probably come from the other side of the border (Pakistan) to collect the dead bodies," he added.
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Story Quote: "The Trump administration made a lot of noise with this bomb, but the general state of play on the ground remains the same: The Taliban continues to wage a formidable and ferocious insurgency. ISIS, by comparison, is a sideshow," Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington told AFP, using an alternative acronym for IS.
PacificSentinel: It's true that ISIS is a "sideshow" in Afghanistan from a fighting perspective, BUT, it's the presence of ISIS in Afghanistan that is causing Russia to cozy up to the Taliban, so logic dictates if you remove ISIS from Afghanistan, you remove Russia's need to make nice with the Taliban.