Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said military operations against al-Shabab will not stop until final victory is achieved.
He was speaking Tuesday, a day after government troops retreated from several towns following a deadly al-Shabab attack on soldiers in Cowsweyne village on Saturday.
"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.
"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."
Mohamud denied al-Shabab's claim that 178 soldiers were killed in the Cowsweyne attack. Instead, he said that al-Shabab lost the most and buried their dead in mass graves.
"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."
Casualty claims by both sides have not been independently verified.
Al-Shabab claims 'historic victory'
The al-Shabab militant group claimed the attack on Cowsweyne was a "historic victory."
As a result of the attack, government forces retreated from four towns that al-Shabab claimed to have recaptured on Tuesday.
The former president of Somalia, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, called for an investigation into how military operations at the Cowsweyne frontline were managed. He urged the parliamentary subcommittee for defense to investigate the attack.
Mohamud in his remarks promised to correct "mistakes" and vowed accountability.
"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.
He promised that any mistakes made by a soldier, an officer, or anybody else would be corrected.
Al-Shabab official surrenders
Meanwhile, the Somali government on Tuesday displayed a mid-level al-Shabab official who surrendered to government forces near the town of Wisil in Mudug region.
The minister of interior, federal affairs and reconciliation, Ahmed Moallim Fiqi, identified the official as Nur Abdullahi Maalinguur, also known as Nur Deeq.
Fiqi said Nur Deeq was the commander of al-Shabab militias in the Mudug area and was involved in heavy battles in the region.
Nur Deeq also used to make threatening phone calls to the business communities, traditional elders and other community members, Fiqi said.
Somali intelligence agencies said al-Shabab commanders call businesses and other community members to demand donations, extortions and other contributions to their fight.
"This surrender means that al-Shabab morale is low, and a thorn has been removed from Mudug," Fiqi posted on his Facebook page.