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News Wrap: U.S. uses biggest non-nuclear bomb against ISIS in Afghanistan

April 13, 2017 at 6:50 PM EDT
In our news wrap Thursday, the U.S. military blasted Islamic State fighters with the biggest non-nuclear bomb in the American arsenal. Also, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad continued to deny any role in a deadly poison gas attack. Meanwhile, the Pentagon acknowledged another coalition strike in Syria mistakenly killed 18 rebels battling ISIS.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. military blasted Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan today with the biggest non-nuclear bomb in the American arsenal. The target was a tunnel complex in Nangarhar province near the Pakistani border. The bomb contains 11 tons of explosives, and had never been used in actual combat.

President Trump said it shows the U.S. is taking the fight to ISIS.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: If you look at what’s happened over last eight weeks and compare that to really what’s happened over the last eight years, you will see there’s a tremendous difference. Tremendous difference.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just last week, a U.S. Army special forces soldier was killed in the same area where the bomb was dropped.

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is out with a fresh denial of any role in a poison gas attack which last week killed 87 people, including children. The U.S. responded a few days later with a cruise missile strike on a Syrian military air base. Assad spoke with Agence France-Presse and said he would agree to an impartial investigation.

BASHAR AL-ASSAD, President of Syria (through interpreter): We don’t have any chemical weapons. We gave up our arsenal a few years ago. Even if we have them, we wouldn’t use them, and we have never used our chemical arsenal in our history.

Our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand in glove with the terrorists. They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the Syrian army claims that the U.S. coalition hit an Islamic State chemical weapons warehouse last night and killed hundreds of people.

Separately, the Pentagon acknowledged another strike in Syria mistakenly killed 18 rebels who were battling ISIS.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled today that the Russian government used excessive force in reacting to a school siege back in 2004. More than 330 people died in the southern Russian city of Beslan. About half were children. Heavily armed Islamic militants associated with the Chechen Republic stormed the school, triggering a nearly three-day stand-off. Russian forces used tanks and grenade launchers to end the siege.

Moscow vowed to appeal today’s ruling.

Back in this country, President Trump signed legislation that lets states deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood. It also includes other groups that provide abortions. The action rescinds an Obama era rule that said states could not block the money.

And, on Wall Street, it followed financial stocks lower today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 138 points to close at 20453. The Nasdaq fell 31, and the S&P 500 gave up 16.

Still to come on the NewsHour: the international challenges facing the Trump administration; changing course, the president’s shifting views on domestic policies; the deported — Mexico secures its own border; and much more.

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