by Associated Press
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.
The Syriac Orthodox Christians of Mar Matti, a monastery that dates back to the 4th century, moved to rescue their library of around 80 manuscripts in August, at the height of the ISIS blitz, when its fighters were bearing down from Mosul to the north, toward the monastery, 20 miles from the city. Their advance was halted by Kurdish pershmerga fighters, who now hold the road leading to the monastery.
That was a relief to the monastery's monks and their community. But they aren't taking any chances and are leaving the manuscripts where they are until the group is decisively defeated...