Secretary of State John Kerry declared Thursday that the Islamic State is committing genocide against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East, after facing heavy pressure from lawmakers and rights groups to make the rare designation.
“In my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in territory under its control, including Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims,” Kerry said at the State Department. Daesh is another name for the Islamic State.
He accused ISIS of “crimes against humanity” and “ethnic cleansing.”
The announcement was a surprise, at least in terms of the timing. A day earlier, a State Department spokesman said they would miss a congressionally mandated March 17 deadline to make a decision. Yet as the department took heat from lawmakers for the expected delay, the department confirmed Thursday morning that Kerry had reached the decision that Christians, Yazidis and Shiite groups are victims of genocide.
It comes after the House this week passed a nonbinding resolution by a 393-0 vote condemning ISIS atrocities as genocide.