Paris, Jan 11 (IANS/AKI) The Islamic State jihadist group could see military defeat his year, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Tuesday.

“The year 2017 could be the one in which Daesh gets defeated,” Gentiloni said, using the Arabic acronym for IS, after a meeting here with French President Francois Hollande.

“But we are all aware that military victory will not be enough unless it is accompanied by victory on a cultural and social level and the recognition of our values and way of life.”

Italy and France belong to a 68-member military coalition against IS which has significantly degraded IS’s capabilities since its launch by US President Barack Obama in September 2014.

With coalition support, local ground forces, with have now retaken 56 percent of the populated territory IS once held in Iraq and 27 percent in Syria, Obama’s special envoy to the coalition, Brett McGurk, told its plenary meeting in Washington DC on 28 November.

IS foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria are at their lowest levels in two and a half years and “negligible” numbers are entering the countries, while the group’s revenue sources have seen a “dramatic” decrease, McGurk said.

Almost all of IS leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies have been killed and precision airstrikes are also targeting IS’s external plotters, military commanders, administrators, recruiters, communicators, and battlefield fighters, he stated.