As the remnants of ISIS flee before the invading forces of the US-led coalition, Russia has been similarly hounding them every step of the way.
According to The Daily Mail, unconfirmed reports have come in that Russia may have dropped the “Father of all Bombs.” The Russian Defense Ministry put out a Facebook post saying “As a result of a precision air strike of the Russian air forces in the vicinity of Deir ez-Zor city, a command post, communication center and some 40 ISIS fighters have been killed.”
While the Russian Defense Ministry has not come forward to say they used the “Father of all Bombs” in early September, some Twitter users in the area reported seeing the bomb being detonated outside of Deir ez-Zor, what was once one of the last areas held by ISIS.
The Father of All Bombs, more officially known as the Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power is a non-nuclear bomb that deals massive destruction that, according to the Russian military, is “comparable to nuclear weapons.” It releases a massive cloud of flammable gas just before it detonates, causing a massive pressure wave that crushes everything in its path — including underground bunkers.
The US has a very similar bomb, the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb — also referred to as the Mother of All Bombs — that was dropped in Afghanistan in April, as reported by The Guardian. The bomb was used to destroy a series of underground tunnels and networks used by ISIS, and it successfully killed 92 militants within the tunnels. The blast left a crater more than 300 meters wide after detonating six feet above the ground.
Commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, said the bomb made it safer to push forward with their campaign. “The enemy had created bunkers, tunnels, and extensive minefield, and this weapon was used to reduce those obstacles so that we could continue our offensive in Nangarhar.”
While it is unclear if a similar bomb had been dropped by the Russians, or what such a massive bomb would’ve been used for, it likely would’ve helped Russia’s effort to root out ISIS forces in the area surrounding Deiz ez-Zor after their retreat from the city earlier this month, according to The Guardian.
Senior officials say with the fall of Deiz ez-Zor and the loss of 60 percent of Raqqa, ISIS forces are fleeing to villages near the Euphrates River. These losses have forced ISIS into hiding, resorting to guerrilla-style tactics.
According to Hisham al-Hashini, a scholar from Iraq with expert knowledge on ISIS, this could pose a problem. “They are very good at underground war. Let’s not forget the damage they caused for many years before they took Mosul.”
Considering their efficiency at Guerilla warfare and the US dropping the MOAB to root out ISIS forces underground, it’s likely that if Russia indeed used the Father of All Bombs, it could’ve been done to similarly root out underground ISIS militants.
The world’s two most significant superpowers are bombing ISIS out of their territory. Will conventional warfare see the decimation of ISIS on the battlefield?
Already, the Russian air-based attacks have proven incredibly effective. Russia reports that their air strikes near Deir ez-Zor have eliminated Gulmurod Khalimov, the so-called “minister of war” who had a $3 million bounty for his death, and the notorious commander Abu-Muhammad al-Shimali.
With the two largest superpowers in the world having potentially dropped the two largest non-nuclear weapons, perhaps now ISIS will begin to lose hope and the war will end soon. Though the loss of any life is always tragic, it is fortunate that the US and Russia have access to these highly efficient weapons that completely mitigate the risks to US and Russian soldiers serving abroad.