Defeat of ISIS announced by Iraqi Prime Minister

Defeat of ISIS announced by Iraqi Prime Minister

Iraqi special forces soldiers watch Islamic State positions at the frontline near the al-Nuri mosque in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, June 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

By SUSANNAH GEORGE, Associated Press

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — Iraq's Prime Minister is declaring an end to the Islamic State group's self-proclaimed caliphate after Iraqi forces captured the compound of a landmark mosque in Mosul that was blown up last week.

Haider al-Abadi says "we are seeing the end of the fake Daesh state ... we will not relent, our brave forces will bring victory," according to a statement posted to Twitter Thursday where he used the Arabic acronym for IS.

The retaking of the al-Nuri mosque is a hugely symbolic win. The site is where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only public appearance in July 2014, declaring an Islamic "caliphate" on territory captured in Iraq and Syria.

Iraqi and coalition officials say IS fighters blew up the site last week, but IS blames a U.S. air strike for the destruction.

The advances Thursday come as the Iraqi troops are pushing deeper into the Old City, a densely populated neighborhood west of the Tigris River where IS fighters are making their last stand in Iraq's second-largest city.

Photo: This Wednesday, June 28, 2017 file photo, shows an aerial view of the destroyed landmark al-Nuri mosque in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq. Abdul Wahab al-Saadi, an Iraqi commander said Thursday, June 29, 2017, that his forces have taken the al-Nuri Mosque compound that was destroyed by the Islamic State group last week. Al-Saadi said special forces entered the compound and took control of the surrounding streets on Thursday afternoon, following a dawn push into the area. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

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