- American officials have joined Somali troops in their fight againt al-Shabab militants.
- In Wednesday's raid, 15 militants are reported to have been killed with one Somalian official also killed.
- Al-Shabab is battling the Western-backed Somali government to establish Islamic rule in the country.
American officials say that US troops took part in a raid on the Islamist al-Shabab group alongside Somali troops on Wednesday.
Al-Shabab earlier said it had "fought off" an attack by foreign forces but US officials said several militants were killed in the raid early on Wednesday.
In Wednesday’s raid, Al-Shabab said one of its fighters died in the battle, while a Somali official put the number of militants killed at 15. A Somali intelligence official later told the Associated Press news agency that Wednesday's raid had targeted a particular "high-profile" individual, who had died in the attack.
The operation targeted an al-Shabab base near the town of Awdhegele, about 50km (30 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu.Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters news agency that they were masked and spoke foreign languages which our fighters could not understand.
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He said the helicopters landed on the banks of the River Shabelle and commandos from the aircraft advanced on the base. They carried rocket launchers and M16 rifles, he told Reuters, citing a weapon used by US forces.
Awdhegle District Commissioner Mohamed Aweis told the BBC that the "helicopters were giving air support to an infantry special forces". Residents said there had been a gun battle, and that the group had sealed the area so it was not possible to confirm if there were any casualties.
Several countries have been supporting Somali officials in their efforts to combat al-Shabab's insurgency. The assault comes after the US said it conducted air strikes on Saturday on an al-Shabab training camp.
Al-Shabab is battling the Western-backed Somali government to establish Islamic rule in the country. Local forces fighting the group have been backed by an African Union mission made up of forces from several African nations.