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Here’s What You Need to Know About the Bomb America Dropped on Afghanistan

A week after the United States launched 59 missiles at Syria, military operations under President Trump have escalated to an unprecedented level.

The United States dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal on Afghanistan yesterday, NBC reports. The target? A cave complex occupied by members of the terror group ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, in the rural Nangarhar Province.

Officially called the “GBU-43,” the bomb weighs in at a whopping 22,000 pounds. According to a report by The New York Times, it’s powerful enough to flatten anything within a 1,000 yard radius. Fittingly, it’s been dubbed “the mother of all bombs”—and it’s never been used in combat before.

With such a massive size, the GBU-43 can be expected to cause some serious damage. CNN reports 36 non-civilian casualties, as well as the collapse of three underground tunnels in the complex. Weapons and ammunition were also annihilated.  

But if ISIS has its strongholds in Iraq and Syria, why was a target in Afghanistan—1,500 miles away—hit with such a huge weapon?

This bombing falls within the “total authorization” President Trump has given the Pentagon to pursue his mission of obliterating terrorist organizations while in office. On the campaign trail, he promised that a plan to defeat ISIS would be completed in 30 days. While one bombing can’t vanquish an entire group with footing in three countries—and we’re far past 30 days into Trump’s presidency—the Trump administration views Thursday’s mission as a step towards keeping his promise.

As Emily Winterbotham, a research fellow at a London-based think tank, explained to NBC News, “Clearly Trump has decided that ISIS—whether it is in Iraq, Syria, or Afghanistan—is something he’s going after.”

The Washington Post reports that the United States has cooperated with Afghan forces to fight the offshoot of ISIS in Afghanistan since 2015.

President Trump called the bombing “another very, very successful mission.” However, The New York Times suggested that national security experts are worried the bombing has ignited another wave of anti-American attitudes in Muslim-majority countries.