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The leaning Al-Hadba minaret that has towered over Mosul for 850 years lay in ruins Thursday, demolished by retreating Daesh (ISIS) militants, but Iraq's prime minister said the act marked their final defeat in the country's second city.The demolition came Wednesday night as Iraqi forces closed on the mosque, which carried great symbolic importance for Daesh. Its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi used it in 2014 to declare a "caliphate" as militants seized swaths of Syria and Iraq.His black flag had been flying on the 45-meter minaret since June 2014, after Daesh fighters surged across Iraq.The mosque's military and religious history embodies the spirit of Mosul, a conservative city which supplied the armed forces with officers since modern Iraq was created, about 100 years ago, and until the fall of Saddam Hussein, after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion which empowered the Shiite majority.The mosque's destruction occurred during the holiest period of Ramadan, its final 10 days.
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