Bullets whistled overhead, a black Islamic State flag flapping in the distance, but all Friar Najeeb Michaeel could think of as he fled the jihadists was how to save hundreds of ancient Iraqi manuscripts in his possession. ‘You are going to get us killed with your archives,’ Michaeel’s assistant Watheq Qassab grumbled as he struggled to carry six boxes of the documents dated between the 13th and 19th century across the border from Iraq into Kurdistan in August last year. The Roman Catholic Dominican Order arrived in Iraq in the 13th century, and set up a permanent church in the second city of Mosul in 1750. Michaeel first smuggled his precious library out of Mosul to Qaraqosh — Iraq’s largest Christian town — during an Islamist insurgency in 2008 which saw thousands of Christians flee the city. Last year, the friar again felt the tide turning as the Islamic State group seized town after town, destroying priceless artefacts and documents in museums and libraries in their rampage acros

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