The U.S. conducted two airstrikes in southern Somalia early this week that killed four al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants.
The U.S. Africa Command says Monday's strikes came in response to an attack by a "large group of armed al-Shabab fighters'' on a joint counterterrosim operation by the U.S. and Somalia.
The U.S. military has in the past used drones to target al-Shabab’s senior leaders. The Pentagon said in June it carried out a strike in late May against Abdullahi Haji Da’ud, one of al Shabab’s senior military planners who served as a principal coordinator of attacks in Somalia, Kenya, and Uganda.
The latest strikes took place in Torotorow in Lower Shabelle region, on Monday.
"During a Somali-led counterterrorism operation, a large group of armed al-Shabab fighters attacked the force, threatening the safety and security of the forces in the area," said Captain Jennifer Dyrcz, a U.S. Africa Command spokeswoman.
Al-Shabab was pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union peacekeeping forces in 2011 but has remained a potent antagonist in Somalia, launching frequent attacks aimed at overthrowing the Western-backed government.
VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed o this report. Some information was provided by Reuters.