U.S. troops safeguard Iraq's ancient monastery

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With Iraqi Christians a threatened and dwindling minority, U.S. forces are safeguarding a 1,400-year-old monastery — Iraq's most ancient — for a time when peace, reconciliation and archaeological detective work can occur.

St. Elijah's Monastery, with its main fortress-like structure looming atop a barren hillside, sits inside a sprawling U.S. military base.

Its bloody history makes clear why the monastery needs protection. In 2003, it was damaged during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. About 250 years earlier, it was nearly leveled by a Persian ruler who ordered its monks slain.

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