The United States was accused of using Afghanistan as a testing ground for one of its most powerful weapons yesterday.

US forces in Afghanistan dropped a 10,300kg bomb on Isis (Islamic State) forces in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, the Pentagon announced, using the largest non-nuclear bomb ever employed in combat.

General John Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said the bomb was "the right munition" to use against Isis because of the group's use of roadside bombs, bunkers and tunnels.

The bomb, known as the GBU-43/B, is one of the largest airdropped munitions in the US military's inventory and was almost used during the opening salvos of the Iraq War in 2003. It is also known as a Moab (Massive Ordinance Air Blast) which has earned it the nickname Mother of All Bombs.


By comparison, US aircraft commonly drop bombs that weigh 100kg to 900kg.

However, Hamid Karzai, the former President of Afghanistan, said he "vehemently and in strongest words condemn the dropping of the latest weapon, the largest non-nuclear bomb".

"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 on Twitter. "It is on us, Afghans, to stop the USA."

US President Donald Trump described the bombing as a "very successful mission".

Afghan officials said the attack on the tunnel complex in Achin district of Nangarhar province left 36 Isis fighters dead.

The US estimates there are 600 to 800 Isis fighters in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar.

There were no civilian casualties, according to a Ministry of Defence statement, which also said that several Isis caves and ammunition caches were destroyed.

Yesterday's blast comes a week after Trump ordered a missile strike against a Syrian regime airport and as tensions rise over North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

- Agencies

A general view of Achin district, in Jalalabad, after U.S. forces dropped Thursday the bomb, Afghanistan. Photo / AP
A general view of Achin district, in Jalalabad, after U.S. forces dropped Thursday the bomb, Afghanistan. Photo / AP

Big-league weapon for small-league enemy

The decision to use the United States' biggest non-nuclear bomb may have been signed off by the commander of US and Nato-led forces in Afghanistan, but it bears all the hallmarks of Donald Trump, US commander-in-chief.

This is a big-league weapon for a small-league enemy.

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast is a 10,300kg weapon of terror.

It was used, we are told, against Isis (Islamic State) in Afghanistan, to demolish a cave and tunnel complex in the province of Nangarhar.

In so doing, Trump has apparently made good on one of his key campaign promises, prioritising the fight against Isis.

Never mind that this branch in Afghanistan is essentially a rebranded band of militants from Pakistan, with little connection to Iraq or Syria beyond occasional appeals for cash.

Isis has struggled to make inroads in the country and has spent much of its time fighting the Taliban. It was all but defeated.

The tactical value of using such a frightening weapon seems limited. The strategic value is even less.

Instead, it represents the biggest possible demonstration of US might short of using a nuclear weapon. It uses Afghanistan as the backdrop for a fiery message to Russia, North Korea and Syria.

And, at a time when Trump was starting to flesh out a more mature foreign policy, it cannot be coincidence that the "Mother of All Bombs", as it is nicknamed, was dropped five days after an American green beret, Staff Sergeant Mark R De Alencar, was killed fighting Isis in Nangarhar.

Afghanistan has suffered too much, too long to be used for vengeance in this way.

- Telegraph Group Ltd