Trump Drops a Motherload: US Uses Most Powerful Non-Nuclear Bomb in Afghanistan

"It will feel like a nuclear weapon to anyone near the area," said Lt. Col. Rick Francona.

The U.S. military dropped its biggest non-nuclear bomb in the Achin district of the Nangarhar province in Afghanistan Thursday — in an area where the munition’s impact is likely to be felt by at least 95,000 people.

RELATED: US-led Coalition Airstrikes Mistakenly Kills 18 Militia Allies in Syria, Says Pentagon

CNN first reported the strike after speaking to four U.S. military officials who had direct knowledge of the mission.

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb or as it’s nicknamed, the "mother of all bombs" – MOAB, is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is the world’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb.

@DavidWright_CNN Breaking: US military has dropped most powerful non-nuclear US bomb, MOAB, targeting ISIS in Nangarhar, Afghanistan -- first ever combat use

@DavidWright_CNN MOAB - also known as ‘Mother of all bombs" - a 21,600 lbs munition; dropped Thursday & US military currently assessing damage

It was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft that was stationed in Afghanistan and operated by Air Force Special Operations Command, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump told CNN.

The target was allegedly an ISIS cave and tunnel complex.

"The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told press shortly after the munition was dropped. The strike "targeted a system of tunnels and cave that ISIS fighters use to move around freely."

The MOAB, which was developed during the Iraq War, has never before been used in the battlefield.

While the U.S. Forces Afghanistan claim that they took “every precaution to avoid civilian casualties”, and while it remains to be seen what the impact of the strike will be, retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona told CNN, "It will feel like a nuclear weapon to anyone near the area", implying that it will likely be grave.

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Iraq or Syria? Trump recalls dessert perfectly, forgets who he bombed & internet erupts

US President Donald Trump revealed he informed Chinese Premier Xi Jinping about the US air strike on a Syrian military base as the pair ate "the most beautiful" chocolate cake. He then mixed up Syria and Iraq – and the internet had a meltdown.

Trump was speaking with Fox Business about the bizarre exchange with Chinese leader during a summit at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

We had finished dinner, we’re now having dessert,” Trump began. “And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen and President Xi was enjoying it.

READ MORE: Trump says he told Xi how he bombed Syria over ‘most beautiful piece of cake’

We’ve just fired 59 missiles, all of which hit by the way, unbelievable, from hundreds of miles away, it’s brilliant, it’s genius, what we have in terms of technology no-one can come close to competing,” he continued.

So I said, we’ve just launched 59 missiles, heading to Iraq,” said the President, seemingly oblivious to his mistake. http://gph.is/1TUMIPk

what animated GIF

Heading to Syria,” host Maria Bartiromo interjected. “Yes,” Trump replied, “heading toward Syria.”

Naturally, Twitter was set alight by the gaffe.

@ChelseaClinton Disturbing that Trump remembers what he ate (chocolate cake) - but not where he sent missiles (Syria, not Iraq as he says until corrected) https://twitter.com/kylegriffin1/status...

@RegBarclay2017 Trump: President Xi, I just want you to know I just fired 59 cruise missiles at [Iraq] Syria.

@BraddJaffy Trump: Over dessert “I said we’ve just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq”

@LawyerRogelio Trump he can remember that they were eating a beautiful chocolate cake but can't remember that the missiles were sent to Syria and NOT Iraq. pic.twitter.com/U00hvhPhij

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‘Riskier than striking Syria’: Beijing warns US against attacking North Korea

China has warned the US against using military force against North Korea, after a surprise redeployment of an aircraft carrier group. Washington’s regional allies said they expect it to consult with them before any action.

Tension is mounting in the region as US President Donald Trump said he would solve the “North Korean problem” with or without China’s help. The warning came amid the diversion of the aircraft carrier group ‘USS Carl Vinson’ to the Korean Peninsula and a week after Trump ordered the US Navy to fire a barrage of 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase as punishment for an alleged chemical attack in Idlib province.

 
FILE PHOTO: The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. © U.S. Navy Photo

Responding to US belligerence, Beijing called against using force against Pyongyang.

“Military force cannot resolve the issue,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing. “Amid challenge there is opportunity. Amid tensions we will also find a kind of opportunity to return to talks.”

An editorial in the influential newspaper Global Times, which is published by the Chinese Communist Party’ People’s Daily, said the situation on the Korean Peninsula could not be compared to that of Syria.

“Taking military actions against North Korea is much more risky than launching a missile strike on Syria. Pyongyang is able to deal a heavy blow to South Korea. Regardless of Pyongyang's nuclear capability, a radiological dispersal device, or a ‘dirty bomb,’ if thrown on the South, will cause nuclear pollution, which will be unbearable to this US ally,” the newspaper warned.

The paper said Washington needs to accept the reality that it “has no power to put global affairs in order at the moment” and work with other leading world powers on the Korean situation through the UN Security Council, a body that the US has shun by the unilateral attack against Syria.

US allies in the region, South Korea and Japan, have both asked Washington to consult with them before taking military action against Pyongyang. Both countries station thousands of US troops on their territories.

The escalation comes as North Korea prepares to celebrate the birthday of its late leader Kim Il-sung on Saturday, which is a state holiday called ‘Day of the Sun’. Pyongyang has a record of timing demonstrations of military strength to the date, as many observers say it might to so this year to test Trump’s resolve.

A Washington-based think tank, 38 North, claimed on Wednesday that satellite images of the North's Punggye-ri nuclear test site indicated an imminent new test. South Korean officials disagreed, saying no new activities were evident, but added that a sixth test may be conducted at any time.

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Putin: Trust between US & Russia degrading under Trump

Trust between Russia and the US has degraded under the Trump administration, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated. During his presidential election campaign, Trump said he would like the US to have better relations with Russia.

In an interview on Wednesday, Putin said that if Donald Trump had intended to bring about a thaw in US relations with Russia, he has failed to see this intention through.

“I would say the level of trust [between Russia and the US] is at a workable level, especially in the military dimension, but it hasn’t improved. On the contrary, it has degraded,” the Russian president told Mir broadcaster.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) welcomes US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before a meeting in Moscow on April 12, 2017. © Alexander Nemenov

Trump’s repeated claims that he could mend relations between Washington and Moscow has fueled accusations that he secretly colluded with Russia to win the US presidential election last year. His administration is currently under a congressional investigation over alleged ties with Russia.

Moscow has distanced itself from domestic US tensions, neither supporting nor criticizing Trump officially. It denied preferring Trump to his Democrat rival, Hillary Clinton, during the election campaign and said it would judge his administration by its actions rather than its words.

Trump’s latest decision to attack Russian ally Syria over an alleged chemical weapons attack drew sharp criticism from the Kremlin. Moscow considers the decision rushed, illegal and playing into the hands of terrorist groups.

Putin and Trump are yet to meet face to face to discuss the tensions between Russia and the US. A meeting of the two leaders has not been scheduled so far, even though Moscow has indicated it is willing.

READ MORE: Putin ready to meet Trump at upcoming Arctic summit in Finland

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Trump Very Likely Profited From Syria Attack — Here’s How

U.S. President Donald Trump owns stocks in Raytheon, the weapons manufacturing corporation that produced the Tomahawk missiles used in the attack.

When U.S. President Donald Trump announced missile strikes against the Shayrat Syrian airbase last Thursday, he alleged that the attack was in the country’s “vital national security interest.”

RELATED: Trump's 'Beautiful' Syria Airstrike and What It Means

Claiming to support Syrian lives, he also said the attack “would prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”

What Trump conveniently forgot to mention, however, is that he may have profited handsomely from the missile strikes he ordered, which left up to 15 people dead.

Trump owns stocks in Raytheon, the weapons manufacturing corporation that produced the Tomahawk missiles used in the attack, Raw Story reports. His 2015 financial disclosure report filed with the Federal Election Commission revealed that his stock portfolio includes investments in defense firms, with Raytheon leading the charge. 

The company, worth almost US$30 billion, has seen its stocks surge since the attack. The attack itself also raked in millions for the company, given that the 59 Tomahawk missiles used cost taxpayers an estimated US$1.4 million apiece, Democracy Now reports. 

Although Trump’s reported Raytheon stocks are valued between US$1,000 to US$15,000, some believe he could have deeper financial ties to the wealthy defense corporation.

https://images.openmultimedia.biz/640x480/clips/imagen-2017-04-05-180629676032-653337.png

“Of course, as with all things Trump, there’s a black box here, because he’s not reporting his tax returns, he hasn’t done a blind trust,” Center for International Policy official William Hartung told Democracy Now. 

“Virtually anything he does, not just in the military sphere, could benefit him, his family, his inner circle financially.”

RELATED: How 'Anti-Trump' Liberal Media Cheered Syria Attack

Trump justified the missile strikes by claiming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was allegedly responsible for the chemical weapons attack two days prior that killed upwards of 70 people. His administration, however, has not presented any evidence of al-Assad’s complicity. 

Moreover, the destruction of the Shayrat Syrian airbase has made it increasingly difficult for experts to carry out an independent investigation of the chemical weapons attack.

Organizations like Raytheon that form the broader military-industrial complex have frequently served as cheerleaders of war, since the U.S. government contracts those companies to produce weapons. 

The 192 cruise missiles that were used to bomb Libya in 2011, for example, made the company over US$290 million alone.

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World feels less secure with Trump – poll

The world feels less secure with Donald Trump as US president, a recent poll says, adding that the majority of respondents in Germany, France, the UK and Brazil said they feel less safe since the Republican took office.

The poll was conducted by TNS Global, one of the largest research agencies worldwide, for Sputnik International news agency between February 16 and 22, 2017.  

A total of 7,148 people across seven countries – France (1,004 people aged 16-64), Germany (1,014 people aged 16-64), Italy (1,050 people aged 16-54), Great Britain (1,037 people aged 16-64), the United States (1,027 people aged 18-64), Brazil (1,010 people aged 16-54) and Turkey (1,006 people aged 16-54) took part in the survey.

: Most expect world to become less safe with as US President

 

 

The respondents were asked one question: “Will the world be more or less secure with President Trump?”

Germany has the highest percentage of people – 72 percent – who doubt that the world will be secure with Trump. It’s followed by France (64 percent), Brazil (60 percent) and the UK (55 percent).

In the US, 45 percent said they feel “less secure” with Trump as president, while only 28 percent say they feel protected with him in power.

It’s been more than 80 days since Trump was sworn in as the 45th US president, with many of his decisions sparking controversy. In January, his executive order temporarily banning the citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the US caused outrage around the globe. Later, Trump revised the order and one of the banned countries, Iraq, was exempted from the list.

READ MORE: #IAmAMuslimToo protest in Times Square, anti-Trump rallies hit cities across US (VIDEOS, PHOTOS) 

Following his inauguration, Trump also signed an executive order authorizing construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border to control immigration, saying afterwards that Mexico will pay for the construction costs “one way or another.”

READ MORE: US govt agency to award contracts for construction of US-Mexico wall by mid-April

The first months of the Trump administration were also marked with numerous scandals after the mainstream press claimed that members of the president’s camp had numerous connections with Russian officials. In February, Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, stepped down after a scandal erupted involving his phone conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak.

READ MORE: ‘AP’s malicious lie’: Russian tycoon denies dealing with Trump’s ex-aide to ‘benefit Putin’ 

The most-discussed of Trump’s moves so far, however, was his decision to fire 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat airbase controlled by the Syrian Army on April 7. Washington claimed the strike was in response to an alleged chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province, for which the US blamed the Syrian government. Syrian officials said that the strike killed at least six people, including civilians, and wounded several others.

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Syria Strikes Departure from Trump's 'America First' Agenda - Ex-CIA Director

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden called the missile strikes carried out by the United States against a Syria government airfield "a remarkable flip" from the policies US President Donald Trump spoke about during the presidential campaign.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The missile strikes carried out by the United States against a Syria government airfield last week marked a major departure from the policies US President Donald Trump spoke about during the presidential campaign, former CIA Director Michael Hayden said in an interview on Monday.

"What’s really remarkable is that [it’s] about as far away from ‘America first’ as you can get," Hayden stated on CNN. "That’s America doing something unilaterally for what I call the good of the order, rather than a narrowly-defined American self-interest. It was a remarkable flip from the man we saw in the campaign."

In 2013, Trump warned former President Barack Obama against military intervention in Syria.

On April 7, the US fired 59 tomahawk cruise missiles at Shayrat Air Base near the city of Homs in response to a chemical weapons attack against Syrian civilians.

Over Half of Americans Approve US Missile Strikes on Syrian Airfield - Poll

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US missile strike in Syria: What we know so far about target, victims & reactions

The US launched a missile strike on a Syrian airbase, killing at least six people, including civilians, and wounding several others. Reactions to the operation continue to roll in, with Russia condemning it while EU countries and others express support.

US President Donald Trump ordered the military strike on an airfield in Shayrat, near Homs, which resulted in a Friday pre-dawn strike in which 59 Tomahawk missiles were deployed.

Six MiG-23 fighter jets were destroyed in the operation, along with a material storage depot, a training facility, a canteen and a radar station, according to Russia's Ministry of Defense (MoD).

READ MORE: 1st footage of destruction at US-hit Shayrat airbase in Syria (VIDEO)

However, the airfield's runway remained intact, according to the MoD, which described the operation's efficiency as “quite poor.”

Syrian officials have so far confirmed that six people were killed and several others wounded in the operation.

However, the governor of Homs told RT that at least five people had been killed, three of whom were Syrian soldiers. He also stated that at least seven people had been wounded.

Meanwhile, Syria's SANA news agency has reported nine civilian deaths, including four children. 

Global reaction 

The office of Syrian President Bashar Assad called the US strike “reckless”,“irresponsible” and “shortsighted,” claiming the motives the strike weren't based on true facts.

 

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations against Syria on April 7, 2017. © Ford Williams / Courtesy U.S. Navy / Handout via REUTERS

The Syrian Army called the strike “blatant aggression,” stating that it makes the US a partner of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and other terrorist organizations.

Homs Governor Talal Barazi told Syrian state television that Syria's leadership and policy will not change as a result of the missile attack, pledging that the targeted airfield will be rebuilt and continue to play a role in fighting terrorists.

Russia also condemned the strike, saying it is suspending an agreement with the US to prevent incidents and ensure flight safety during military operations in Syria. Under the agreement, the two sides had exchanged information about planned flights in the area.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that strike reminds him of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which was launched without approval from the UN Security Council. He went on to state that Washington has not presented any evidence to back its allegation that Damascus was behind the chemical attack.

Iran, a key ally of Assad, called the strikes “dangerous” and “destructive,” saying they violate international law.

Meanwhile, European countries have expressed support for the assault, including France, Germany, the UK and Italy.

@DefenceHQ Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has welcomed US strikes on a Syrian airfield last night, saying they were 'limited and appropriate'.

French President Francois Hollande said Assad bears full responsibility for the strike, and said Russia should take it as a “warning” to push for a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

President of the European Council Donald Tusk says the strike is a needed action against “barbaric” chemical attacks, adding that the EU will work with the US to end the Syrian conflict.

@eucopresident US strikes show needed resolve against barbaric chemical attacks. EU will work with the US to end brutality in Syria.

Meanwhile, Turkey has also voiced support for the operation, with Ankara accusing Damascus of “humanitarian crimes.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the operation "positive" and a "concrete step taken against the war crimes of the Assad regime," but said it isn't enough on its own. He added that "serious steps" are needed for the protection of innocent Syrians, Reuters reported.

The prime minister of Israel, a staunch ally of the US, said Trump has sent a message that chemical weapons will not be tolerated. Benjamin Netanyahu went on to say that he hopes the message will extend not only to Damascus, but to other countries, including Iran and North Korea.

Saudi Arabia called the strike a “courageous decision” by Trump, expressing its full support, SPA news agency reported, citing a statement from Riyadh. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also expressed support for the strike.

Japan has also voiced support for the operation.

China, which has historically sided with Russia at the UN in opposing condemnation of Assad's government, said it had “noted” the latest developments, but did not mention the missile attack specifically. It went on to state that the most urgent task to was to prevent the situation from deteriorating.

Further steps 

Following the strike, Moscow called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he regards the strike as an “aggression against a sovereign nation,” according to his spokesman Dmitry Peskov. He also said Putin believes the strike was carried out “in violation of international law” and “under an invented pretext.”

Rand Paul  © Eric Thayer

Moscow also vowed to take “a number of measures” to strengthen and improve Syria's air defense system in order to protect “vital parts of Syrian infrastructure,” according to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov.

The missile strike, which Trump said was in America's national interest in order to prevent the use of chemical weapons, came after a chemical attack took place in Idlib, Syria, earlier this week. The US operation took place before any investigations were concluded.

Up to 86 people, including 26 children, are alleged to have been killed in the chemical attack, with images showing civilians choking and fainting, and some foaming at the mouths.

Washington has accused the Syrian government of being behind the “barbaric” attack.

However, Russia's Ministry of Defense has confirmed that the chemical release was the result of the Syrian Army destroying a rebel warehouse where chemical weapons were being produced and stockpiled before being shipped to Iraq. The ministry called the information “fully objective and verified.”

The Syrian Army also completely denied deploying chemical or toxic material, stating that it “has not used nor will use” such materials “in any place or time, neither in the past or in the future.”

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