Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has said a military offensive against al-Shabab aims to eliminate the al-Qaeda linked group in the next five months.
Correspondents say a promise to eliminate the group is hugely optimistic seeing as it has been around since the early 2000s, is deeply embedded in communities and has adapted its tactics in the face of international military pressure.
Yet thousands of government soldiers have been gathering in a town in central Somalia to take part in a new military campaign against the jihadists.
During the first phase of the offensive, which began a year ago, the army and local clan-based militias managed to seize swathes of territory from al-Shabab.
Al-Shabab, which means "the youth" in Arabic, emerged as the radical youth wing of Somalia's now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled Mogadishu in 2006, before being forced out by Ethiopian forces.