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New flag (top) and Saddam era flag (bottom) 

Baghdad: A new Iraqi flag stripped of Saddam-era symbols was hoisted over the Iraqi Cabinet building in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki raised the new flag during a ceremony watched by leading dignitaries, said government spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh.

Earlier this month, parliament voted to remove Saddam-related symbols from the banner, including the three stars thought to represent the objectives of Saddam’s now outlawed Baath party.

The calligraphy of the Arabic words Allahu Akbar (God is Great), which was in Saddam’s own handwriting, was also changed to a different script.

The changes were prompted by a row with Iraq’s Kurdish minority, who threatened to boycott the old banner during a pan-Arab meeting in the country later on February.

More than 100,000 Kurds were killed under Saddam’s Anfal military campaign in the 1980s.

The new flag is valid for only one year, after which parliament must pass another law to establish a permanent design.

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