The leaning al-Hadba minaret that has towered over Mosul for 850 years now lies in ruins, demolished by retreating Islamic State militants, but Iraq's Prime Minister says the act marks their final defeat in the country's second city.
"In the early morning, I climbed up to my house roof and was stunned to see the Hadba minaret had gone," Nashwan, a day- labourer living in Khazraj neighbourhood near the mosque, said by phone. "I felt I had lost a son of mine."
His words echoed the shock and anger of many over the destruction of the Grand al-Nuri Mosque along with its famous minaret, known affectionately as "the hunchback" by Iraqis.
The demolition came on Wednesday night as Iraqi forces closed on the mosque, which carried enormous symbolic importance for Islamic State. Its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi used it in 2014 to declare a "caliphate" as militants seized swathes of of Syria and Iraq.
His black flag had been flying on 45-metre minaret since June 2014, after Islamic State fighters surged across Iraq, seizing vast swathes of territory.
Russia said on Thursday there was high degree of certainty Baghdadi was now dead, according to RIA news agency. Moscow said last week its forces Ms May have killed him, but Washington could not corroborate and Western and Iraqi officials were sceptical.
Baghdadi has left the fighting in Mosul to local commanders and is believed to be hiding in the border area between Iraq and Syria.
Some analysts said the destruction of the mosque could in fact speed operations to drive Islamic State out of what had been its chief Iraqi stronghold. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi went further.
"Blowing up the al-Hadba minaret and the al-Nuri mosque amounts to an official acknowledgement of defeat," he said on his website.
The insurgents chose to blow up the mosque rather than see the flag taken down by US-backed Iraqi forces battling through the maze of narrow alleys and streets of the Old City, the last district still under control of Islamic State in Mosul.
Defence analysts agreed the decision to destroy the mosque could indicate that the militants are on the verge of collapse.
"They had said they would fight until their last breath defending the mosque," Baghdad-based security expert Safaa al-A'sam told Reuters. "The fact is that they are no longer capable of standing in the face of Iraqi government forces."
The minaret was built with seven bands of decorative brickwork in complex geometric patterns also found in Persia and Central Asia. Its tilt and the lack of maintenance made it particularly vulnerable to blasts.
The mosque was named after Nuruddin al-Zanki, a noble who fought the early crusaders from a fiefdom that covered territory in modern-day Turkey, Syria and Iraq. It was built in 1172-73, shortly before his death, and housed an Islamic school.
"Many different enemies controlled Mosul over the past 900 years but none of them dared to destroy the Hadba." said Ziad, an arts students. "By bombing the minaret, they proved they are the worst of all barbarian groups in history."