President Donald Trump is ramping up airstrikes in Somalia against Al Qaeda’s third largest affiliate, al-Shabaab, the Pentagon announced Thursday.
The new authority ends Obama-era restrictions on drone strikes in Somalia.
The top U.S. general for Africa told reporters on Friday that he had requested the authority to conduct more strikes against al-Shabaab in Somalia.
“It's very important and very helpful for us to have little more flexibility, a little bit more timeliness, in terms of decision-making process and it'll allow us to give -- in fact, counter ISIS or in our case in Somalia, al-Shabaab,” said Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the head of U.S. Africa Command.
Last year, a Somali airliner was bombed using a laptop computer in an attack claimed by al-Shabaab, one of the reasons the Dept. of Homeland Security earlier this month banned electronics larger than cell phones from flights to the United States from some majority-Muslim nations.
Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters: "The President has approved a Department of Defense proposal to provide additional precision fires in support of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali security forces operations to defeat al-Shabaab in Somalia. This authority is consistent with our approach of developing capable Somali security forces and supporting regional partners in their efforts to combat al-Shabaab."
Somali and African Union forces already have achieved some success in recapturing territory from al-Shabaab.
"The additional support provided by this authority will help deny al-Shabaab safe havens from which it could attack U.S. citizens or U.S. interests in the region," said Davis.
Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.