US forces operating in Somalia took part in a mission in which their Somali counterparts killed fighters who appeared to be under 18, the US military's Africa Command said Wednesday.
On January 18, US forces went in an advisory capacity with Somali partners on a mission in the Lower Shabelle region to an indoctrination center for the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabab group.
"During the mission, the Somali National Security Forces received hostile fire," AFRICOM said in a statement.
"The Somali forces returned fire in self-defense."
In the ensuing firefight, five "enemy combatants" were killed and six were wounded.
Some of those killed appear to have been under the age of 18, AFRICOM said, without providing additional details.
At the end of the operation, Somali forces recovered 30 "male children" from the indoctrination center.
"We support the Federal Government of Somalia and UNICEF efforts to reunite these children with their families," the statement read.
Officials said US soldiers did not fire their weapons in the engagement.
Al-Shabaab have been trying since 2007 to overthrow the Somali government, which has the support of the international community.
The group proclaimed its allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2010, a step formally accepted by the extremist network two years later. However in recent years, some Shahab members have defected to ISIS.