Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet has approved a plan to widen the German military's mission in the Mediterranean to include searching for weapons bring smuggled to fighters for the Islamic State group and other extremist organizations in North Africa.

The plan agreed on Wednesday still needs Parliamentary approval but is not expected to meet resistance.

German ships have already been part of the European Union's so-called Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean since June 2015. To date, however, their mandate has been to rescue migrants and also stop human smuggling.

There was no immediate word on when Parliament might vote on the mission's expansion.