By Michael Hernandez
President Donald Trump on Thursday authorized the Pentagon to carry out a more robust air campaign against al-Shabaab in Somalia.
"The President has approved a Department of Defense proposal to provide additional precision fires in support of African Union Mission in Somalia," the Pentagon said in a statement.
Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said the additional powers "will help deny al-Shabaab safe havens from which it could attack U.S. citizens or U.S. interests in the region."
Specifically, the new authorities will help the U.S.'s local partners "increase pressure on al-Shabaab" while reducing threats to those forces, the Pentagon said.
Al-Shabaab is a militant Salafist group linked to al-Qaeda. In 2012, the group's former leader, Mukhtar Abu al-Zubair, said the east African terror group pledged fealty to al-Qaeda, an announcement welcomed by al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Al-Zubair was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2014.
His fighters have carried out a number of attacks inside Somalia in a bid to topple the internationally-recognized federal government, as well as extraterritorial attacks, particularly in Kenya.
In January dozens of Kenyan troops were killed in an al-Shabaab raid on a Kenyan military base. The group's militants carried out an attack at a university that slaughtered nearly 150 victims in 2015, and an attack on a mall in 2013 killed more than 60 people.