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.