Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

U.S. mum on ‘mother of all bombs’

Afghan official says 96 killed

- By Mujib Mashal and Fahim Abed

KABUL, Afghanista­n — Since the United States dropped the “mother of all bombs” on an Islamic State cave complex in eastern Afghanista­n Thursday, U.S. military officials have been circumspec­t about the bomb’s damage, but one voice has been filling the informatio­n vacuum in the region: IS radio.

U.S. reticence to discuss casualties and other damage from the 22,000-pound bomb concerns local officials in Nangarhar province who supported the massive bomb after military officials said ground operations had failed to penetrate the IS stronghold in the mountains of the Achin district.

“I and other people have this concern — that why American forces are not letting anyone visit the scene of the bombing?” said Zabihullah Zmarai, a member of the council in Nangarhar province who held a post-bombing news conference to announce his support. “The U.S. authoritie­s should provide an answer to this question.”

Afghan security officials say that clearance operations are taking place around the site, and that IS fighters are engaging Afghan and U.S. forces, who are calling in more airstrikes to target the militants’ positions. There are also reports that the U.S. military has kept even Afghan forces from the bombing site.

One senior Afghan security official in Kabul who spoke anonymousl­y said Tuesday that Thursday’s bombing killed 96 IS militants, 13 of them major commanders. However, the official provided no proof of the deaths or informatio­n on how officials reached the number of 96.

The U.S. military, despite repeated attempts, did not provide comment.

Climate pact stance

President Donald Trump is still deliberati­ng whether to keep the U.S. in an internatio­nal agreement to reduce climate-warming carbon emissions that went into effect last November, even though he has called climate change a hoax.

The White House postponed a meeting Tuesday where top aides were to have hashed out difference­s on what to do about the nonbinding internatio­nal deal forged in Paris in December 2015. Not all of Mr. Trump’s advisers share his skeptical views on climate change — or the Paris pact.

Russians near Alaska

Two Russian long-range bombers flew about 100 miles off the Alaskan coast Monday night, the first time since Mr. Trump took office that Moscow has sent warplanes so close to the U.S., the military said Tuesday.

After American jets flew alongside the Russian bombers for several minutes, the Russian planes broke off and headed back to their base in eastern Russia.

2nd Army nominee

Mr. Trump’s second choice to lead the Army — Mark Green, a Tennessee state senator and former flight surgeon — is facing strong opposition from civil rights groups, which cite his anti-LGBT legislativ­e record, and Muslim-American groups, which are alarmed by comments they say are Islamophob­ic.

Human rights talks

In a bid to show that the Trump administra­tion cares about human rights around the world, its envoy to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, on Tuesday presided over what the administra­tion called the first “thematic debate” on human rights in the Security Council.

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