US President Donald Trump has approved a Defence Department plan allowing more aggressive action against terrorist group al-Shabaab in Somalia, the Pentagon said Thursday.
The US military may now conduct "precision" air strikes in support of Somali and African Union troops.
"Somali and (African Union) forces have already achieved significant success in recapturing territory from al-Shabaab, and additional US support will help them increase pressure on al-Shabaab and reduce the risk to our partner forces when they conduct operations," spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said.
The move declares parts of Somalia areas of active hostilities, giving commanders on the ground greater authority to conduct strikes without first seeking approval.
The US military was previously only allowed to conduct strikes in Somalia if the target posed a threat and so was for self defence.
However the rules of engagement designed to protect civilians have not changed, a Pentagon spokeswoman said.