Commander of the Resolute Support mission and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Army Gen. John W. Nicholson listens during a press conference, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, April 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
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The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan said Friday the decision to deploy one of the largest conventional bombs ever unleashed in combat, was a purely tactical decision made as part of the campaign against ISIS-linked fighters.As many as 36 suspected ISIS militants were killed in the strike Thursday evening, Afghan defense officials said, adding there were no civilian casualties.The United States has steadily intensified its air campaign against ISIS and Taliban militants in Afghanistan, with the Air Force deploying nearly 500 weapons in the first three months of 2017, up from 300 in the corresponding 2016 period.In March, U.S. forces conducted 79 "counter-terror strikes" against ISIS in Nangarhar, killing as many as 200 militants, according to the U.S. military command in Kabul.U.S. military officials estimate there are about 600 to 800 ISIS fighters in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar, but also in the neighboring province of Kunar.Last year, airstrikes by international forces caused at least 127 civilian deaths and 108 injuries, up from 103 deaths and 67 injuries in 2015, the United Nations said.
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