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ICC Note: According to the Associated Press, despite ISIS’s recent campaign against historic, religious monuments, a historic Christian library was recently saved by a group of monks in northern Iraq. The library contained Bibles, commentaries and other manuscripts, many dating back 400-500 years. The rescue of these historic texts served as a piece of hope in the midst of the campaign to demolish what still remains as historic monuments for religious minorities in Iraq.

04/03/2015 Iraq (CBS News) – As Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants advanced toward this monastery perched on a mountain in northern Iraq, the monks rushed to protect a cherished piece of their heritage: Their library of centuries-old Christian manuscripts.

Dozens of the handwritten tomes were spirited to safety in nearby Kurdish-ruled areas. There they remain, hidden in a nondescript apartment in the Kurdish city of Dohuk, where Christians who have fled the extremists’ onslaught are living and watching over them.

The Associated Press was allowed rare access to the library, a collection of copies of Bibles and biblical commentaries, mostly written in Syriac — a form of the ancient Semitic Aramaic language — and mostly dating back 400-500 years.

The oldest is a copy of the letters of Saint Paul, some 1,100 years old. The bound tomes, some with tattered pages written in black and red ink, lay on shelves.

Their rescue is a bright spot in the devastating onslaught by the Sunni extremists against Iraq’s people — particularly religious and ethnic minorities — and Iraq’s heritage, as they took over much of northern and western Iraq the past year.

When they captured Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, and other parts of the north last summer, most Christians and other minorities fled the city and nearby towns for the Kurdish autonomous zone further north.

The militants seized churches and monasteries in and around Mosul, removing symbols of Christianity like the cross and blowing up some of the buildings.

ISIS has also attacked Sunni Muslim shrines they consider idolatrous. In recent months they have accelerated their campaign to destroy more ancient sites, like the 3,000-year-old ruins of Nimrud; they shattered artifacts in Mosul’s museum and burned hundreds of books at Mosul’s library and university, including rare manuscripts.

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