The biggest non-nuclear bomb ever dropped blasted an underground complex defended by Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan.
The US air force targeted the massive complex that intelligence had revealed as a command centre, arsenal and hide-out for IS forces.
The 30-foot long bomb was packed with 21,600 pounds of explosives – just over 11 tons.
Dubbed ‘the mother of all bombs’, the US air force says this was the first time the bomb had been deployed in combat.
Tested in Florida, the blast was felt miles away and a mushroom cloud of smoke was visible from 20 miles.
Cease and desist message
“The strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and US forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximising the destruction to the militants,” said a spokesman.
“This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive.”
The spokesman added that IS was fighting from underground bunkers and tunnels.
The GBU-43 (Guided Bomb Unit) was designed in 2002 as a bunker buster to blast the defences of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
After testing finished, the US air force released a statement about the bomb, saying: “It will put pressure on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to cease and desist or the United States would not only have the means but use them against the unpopular tyrant.”
The message is thought to have changed little.
Military experts suspect the bomb was dropped as a warning of the capability for destruction of the US air force to opponents around the world.
These would include Russia and Syria following the cruise missile strikes in the wake of the gas attack in which 100 people died and the armed forces of North Korea, thought to be about to test a nuclear bomb.
The fighting ability of IS has been much diminished over the past year.
The group has taken to terror tactics such as the London stabbing of a policeman and ploughing vehicles into crowds.
IS no longer seems to have the manpower or weapons to engage in battle with a significant army.
One indication of this is although a US soldier was killed in Afghanistan this week, he was the first casualty this year. In comparison, 1,832 Americans died between the end of 2001 and 2016.