US air strikes against al-Shabaab in Somalia leave 7 dead

PHOTO: Somalian security forces inspect wreckage of a vehicle at the site after bomb-laden vehicle attack at Waberi district in Mogadishu, Somalia, June 30, 2017. Sadak Mohamed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Somalian security forces inspect wreckage of a vehicle at the site after bomb-laden vehicle attack at Waberi district in Mogadishu, Somalia, June 30, 2017.

The U.S. conducted three airstrikes against al-Shabaab in Somalia, killing seven fighters, U.S. Africa Command confirmed Thursday.

The strikes, which took place over the past two days, occurred in Jilib, about 200 miles southwest of Mogadishu.

"U.S. forces work closely with Somali military forces against al-Shabaab in Somalia to degrade the al-Qaeda affiliate's ability to recruit, train, and plot external terror attacks throughout the region and in the United States," U.S. Africa Command said in a statement on Thursday.

Al-Shabaab has been an al-Qaeda affiliate since 2012. It has been designated as a terrorist organization by a number of nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

According to a U.S. official, one strike against the group was conducted in self-defense after a group of armed al-Shabaab fighters posed an imminent threat to Somali-led and U.S. forces, leading the U.S. to conduct the strike to neutralize the threat.

The other two strikes were conducted under a new authorization granted by President Trump in March that allows for offensive airstrikes against al-Shabaab if prior notification is given to the Somali government.

Before the new authorization was granted, the U.S. military could only carry out defensive airstrikes against al-Shabaab in situations where Somali troops and their U.S. advisers came under fire.

These air strikes bring the total number directed under the new, offensive policy to seven.

Last week, the U.S. confirmed two additional offensive strikes against al-Shabaab fighters. Three other offensive strikes were carried out in June and July.

"Al-Shabaab has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and is dedicated to providing safe haven for terrorists," U.S. Africa Command said in its statement. "We continue to work in coordination with our Somali partners and allies to systematically dismantle al-Shabaab and help achieve stability and security throughout the region."

ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.