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U.S. Launches Strike Against Al-Shabab Leader in Somalia

The U.S. conducted a drone strike in Somalia targeting an al-Shabab leader involved in overseeing high-profile attacks that have killed three Americans, the Department of Defense said Friday.

The unmanned aerial vehicle strike targeted Hassan Ali Dhoore, who the Department of Defense said is a senior leader in the al-Qaeda offshoot, the Defense Department said. Military officials said they were trying to confirm whether Dhoore was killed.

"Removing Dhoore from the battlefield would be a significant blow to al-Shabaab's operational planning and ability to conduct attacks against the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia, its citizens, U.S. partners in the region, and against Americans abroad," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.

What is Al Shabab? 1:21

Dhoore was riding in a vehicle with two other al-Shabab members 20 miles south of Jilib, which is southwest of Mogadishu, when the strike was carried out in the early evening Thursday, a senior defense official said.

Dhoore was "directly responsible" for the March 27, 2015 attack on the Maka al-Mukarram Hotel in Mogadishu, which killed 15 people including a Somali-American, the Defense Department said.

He also "played a direct role" in a Dec. 25, 2014 attack on the Mogadishu International Airport, which killed a U.S. citizen as well as African Union personnel, the military said.

The defense official said the U.S. had been watching Dhoore for some time, and the Somali government shared information that led to the drone strike.

Thursday's strike comes a month after the U.S. military said it killed more than 150 members of al-Shabab in an air strike in Somalia. Days later, U.S.; special operations forces participated in a raid against the group in southern Somalia