Iraqi priest saves thousands of 'priceless' ancient manuscripts from ISIS

An Iraqi priest has been named a hero after he rescued thousands of 'priceless' ancient manuscripts as ISIS invaded his village.

Father Najeeb Michael rescued thousands of manuscripts from ISIS when he fled his village near Mosul.VOS news video

Father Najeeb Michael fled to Irbil from his village of Qaraqosh, South East of Mosul, 10 days before ISIS invaded, accompanied by as many people as could fit in his car and more than 1,000 manuscripts.

"It was the night of August 6, 2014, a very dangerous and sad day and night when many thousands of people left Mosul and also Qaraqosh," he told VOAnews.com.

"This night I left Qaraqosh just two hours before Daesh came and occupied Qaraqosh, and I bring with me thousands of manuscripts in my car," he said.

The manuscripts, some of which were over 1,000 years old, related to astrology, theology and philosophy.

"The manuscripts rescued by Father Najeeb are as important for the history of Iraq's culture as any museum object or archaeological site," said Mike Albin, a US-based Arab world specialist.

"His heroism in rescuing the manuscripts and his organisational skill in preserving them are a priceless contribution to the preservation of mankind's cultural heritage," he added.

The rescued items, which include paintings from local churches, are now kept safely in Irbil.

"I felt we were in a dangerous situation and IS will attack us, that's why... I chose a big truck and put everything inside, many thousands of manuscripts, and also many thousands of documentation and archiving and precious things, and I take it out of danger," Najeeb said.

He, alongside some of his students, are currently in the process of digitalising these historical pages in order to preserve the Christian heritage of Iraq.