Somalia President: We will not stop Al-Shabaab war until we win

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DHUSAMAREB, Somalia - Somalia will continue fighting Al-Shabaab militants until visible victory is attained, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has said, noting the sacrifice from the Somali National Army [SNA], the US Africa Command and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] throughout this period.

Hassan Sheikh's remarks come a few hours after the SNA soldiers retreated from a number of strategic towns across the country following setbacks in Oswein village where Al-Shabaab is believed to have inflicted losses on the national army.

But President Hassan Sheikh insists the fight against Al-Shabaab will continue on all fronts until the group is defeated, adding that the military has made notable gains despite Saturday's setbacks in the strategic village of Oswein.

"Whether one battlefield is lost or someone spreads misinformation, the fight is going to continue. It will not stop, we are not turning back from where we are," he said. "We will achieve the final victory that we seek. The importance is achieving a final victory. A final victory is near."

He praised government soldiers who dislodged the militants from vast areas since the offensive was launched last year, and paid tribute to those soldiers and local fighters who participated in the operations, VOA reports.

"Al-Shabab today is weaker, smaller in number," he said. "We are more experienced, more in number, better equipped, more encouraged, and we have a victory which the enemy lacks. Victory is in our grasp."

In his statement, the president dismissed claims by Al-Shabaab that over 178 soldiers were killed at Oswein. According to him, the group lost several fighters adding that a number of them were buried in mass graves to conceal evidence of massive losses by the militants.

"The correct information about Cowsweyne has to be this conclusion — that the number of soldiers al-Shabab claimed to have killed is false," he said, explaining that the group lost 190 fighters and buried them in mass graves.

"They have finished off their own wounded, [because] they don't have hospitals, they don't have medication for them," he said. "The army will reach those mass graves and investigate them."

With both sides claiming victory in Oswein raid, the Al-Shabaab insisted that the ambush was "historic" given the number of soldiers killed. The government has since admitted withdrawing soldiers from a number of towns, terming the move as "tactical".

But in his remarks, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud promised to correct "mistakes" and vowed accountability. He hailed the soldiers for "standing tall" to be counted at the "time of need" in the country.

"It's time to reward heroes among the soldiers; and to hold those abusing their responsibilities, committed treason or undermining the army accountable," he said.

GAROWE ONLINE

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