United States jails two women for funding al Shabaab

President Donald Trump has granted the US military more authority to go after al-Qaida-linked militants in Somalia, approving a Pentagon request to allow more aggressive airstrikes, officials said Thursday.

But senior US military officials had sought leeway to approve strikes more quickly, including through the establishment of a zone south of Mogadishu that is considered an "area of active hostility". US special operations forces can move closer to the fight and call in offensive airstrikes more quickly while increasing assistance to the Somali National Army.

In a statement, the Pentagon said Trump had approved a request for "additional precision fired in support of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali security forces".

Some in long-chaotic Somalia, where access to independent information is extremely challenging, could see this as a chance to spread misinformation, said Laetitia Bader, a Somalia researcher for Human Rights Watch.

President Donald has finally turned his eyes on Africa as he boosted the United States military's authority to step up air strikes in the fight against Islamist insurgents in Somalia.

U.S. Africa Command had sought the expanded authorities to enable offensive operations against al Shabaab. The Trump administration had no immediate comment about the rules change, but Gen.

"It allows us to prosecute targets in a more rapid fashion", Waldhauser said.

Security in Mandera region which borders Somalia remains volatile with the militia who crossed over from their neighboring country responsible for the numerous attacks that have rocked the area.

Somali security officers secure the scene of a suicide vehicle explosion in front of the national theater in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, on March 21.

The review for Somalia was slowed, officials have said, by criticism of the raid in Yemen, which resulted in numerous civilian deaths, the death of a member of the Navy SEALs and the loss of a $75 million aircraft.

Al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia during an exercise on February 13, 2012.

Previously, the United States carried out airstrikes in limited circumstances in Somalia, most commonly when there was an imminent threat to Americans on the ground.

Al-Shabaab emerged in 2006 from the now-defunct Islamic Courts Union, which once controlled Somalia's capital of Mogadishu.

Approximately 200 to 300 USA special forces are believed to be working with local forces to help defeat al-Shabaab's remnants, according to an October report by the New York Times.

  • Jon Douglas