President Trump has approved new kinds of operations for the USA military in Somalia, the Pentagon said Thursday, setting the stage for a wider American role in the war there as US troops team directly with Somali soldiers in offensive operations.

To change that, Trump signed a directive Wednesday declaring parts of Somalia an "area of active hostilities", according to reports.

But because Somalia was not considered an active war zone, proposed strikes needed high-level, interagency vetting. That decision similarly permitted airstrikes that helped Libyan forces root out Islamic State militants.

The move follows a similar expansion of war powers in Yemen. Somalia joins the list of Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

Waldhauser said last week that offensive strikes will keep al-Shabab from expanding its territory where it plots such attacks.

The group carried out a 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya resulting in 60 deaths and 175 wounded as well as several other attacks.

Shisia said more border patrol will be intensified along the Kenya-Somalia border to prevent the Al-Qaida-linked insurgents who are fleeing Somalia from entering into the country. A March 17 bombing in Mosul, Iraq killed more than 200 innocent civilians in what was said to be "one of the deadliest bombing raids for civilians since the USA invasion of Iraq in 2003".

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About 50 US commandos have been rotating in and out of Somalia to advise and assist local troops.

The United States has a small presence in Somalia and is allowed to carry out strikes in defense of partnered forces.

Against that backdrop, Trump's escalation is less a break with his predecessor than an intensification of a trend that dates to Obama's past year in power. They also had close contact with terrorist leaders and were clued into al-Shabaab activities.

And as The Times reported in November, the Obama administration - after years of internal debate - chose to designate al-Shabab an "associated force" of al-Qaida.

Al-Shabaab reportedly killed dozens of Kenyan troops in January, but lost 31 fighters in a raid by Kenyan Defense Forces earlier this week.

The new approval will allow USA forces to further their goal of supporting local forces against the al-Qaida linked terrorist group, according to Davis. The Navy's classified SEAL Team 6 has been heavily involved in many of these operations. But even the publicly available information shows a marked increase in recent years.

The official grade of certainty that civilians won't be killed has been lowered from "near certainty" to "reasonable certainty".