Rome, Feb 14 (IANS/AKI) A new and "challenging" stage is beginning in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group, Italy's Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said.
"A new and challenging phase is starting that will require different but no less demanding efforts," Pinotti told a meeting in Rome of defence ministers from the US-led coalition against IS on Tuesday.
"It is the time for reflection and political and strategic review of the future of our fight against jihadist terrorism," Pinotti said.
"IS has been routed from its territory but its deadly ideology has not been vanquished," she said.
Pinotti and US Defence Secretary James Mattis were among 15 defence ministers attending Tuesday's summit focused on foreign fighters and the reconstruction of areas of Iraq and Syria formerly under IS control.
Meanwhile, Italy's Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said on Tuesday that the global coalition against the Islamic State was now at a "crucial" stage in its battle to eradicate jihadist group.
Although the IS had been seriously weakened by its defeats in Iraq and Syria, much remained to be done to prevent a resurgence of the group and to reconstruct the areas it once controlled, Alfano told a coalition meeting in Kuwait City.
"We have defeated IS, freeing at least eight million people from the jihadists' grip," he said. "Now the crucial stage of our mission begins."