Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has declared a military offensive against Al Shabaab with the objective of eradicating the Al Qaeda-linked group within the coming five months.
However, security experts raise doubts about the feasibility of this timeline given the ongoing series of militant attacks.
Mohamud intends to formally commence the second phase of the campaign in the upcoming days, with the launch set to take place in the central town of Dhusamareb.
The initial phase was initiated in August of the preceding year, involving the military uniting with clan-based militias in central Somalia.
This unusual collaboration contributed to achieving the most substantial territorial advancements against the militants since the mid-2010s, but Al Shabaab has persisted in carrying out lethal attacks on both military and civilian targets.
The aim of the second phase is to make inroads into southern Somalia, which serves as the historic stronghold of Al Shabaab.
The terror group has been engaged in a brutal insurgency against the government since 2006.
“We want to eliminate al Shabaab from the country in the coming five months,” Mohamud said at a town hall meeting in Dhusamareb on Thursday evening.
“If we do not clear them out completely, then maybe there will be few pockets with a few harmless al Shabaab that cannot cause problems.”
Security analysts remain skeptical about the commitments to eliminate the group, stating that it possesses extensive influence within communities throughout the country and that the government forces possess limited experience and capabilities.
The militants have regrouped in certain rural regions that were initially taken over by government forces during the first phase, and they have inflicted significant casualties on their adversaries.
In May, they carried out a raid in which they killed a minimum of 54 Ugandan peacekeepers, and in July, they executed a suicide attack on a military academy in the capital Mogadishu, resulting in the deaths of at least 30 Somali soldiers.