Iraqi Prime Minister declares end to IS caliphate

A Shiite Turkmen family sit on a mini truck with their belongings as they flee their house from the front line village of Taza Khormato, in the northern oil rich province of Kirkuk, Iraq, Friday June 20, 2014. Thousands of people fled the town of Taza Khormato fearing the advance of Sunni insurgents who overran the neighboring village in the northern oil-rich province of Kirkuk. Iraq’s leading Shiite Muslim cleric called Friday for a new government to be formed without delay and said all Iraqis must work together to resolve the country’s political crisis. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

 

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.

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