John Kerry says the Islamic State is committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and Shiite groups in Iraq and Syria. The secretary of state announced his findings from the White House on Thursday, citing evidence from a number of sources. "Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by its actions," he said, per the Boston Globe. A March 17 deadline was set last year to determine if ISIS was guilty of genocide. US officials said Wednesday that Kerry's investigation would run long, though they now say he came to a decision only a few hours later, reports the AP. Earlier this week, the House unanimously passed a nonbinding resolution condemning ISIS of genocide after pressure from several groups.
The Knights of Columbus says ISIS militants have killed more than 1,100 Christians, while the Holocaust Memorial Museum last year found Yazidis were victims of genocide in Iraq, reports the Washington Post. "We are preparing for future efforts to liberate occupied territories," Kerry said, though his determination won't force the US to take any specific action against the terrorist group. In the only other instance when a US administration determined that a genocide was being committed during an ongoing conflict—in Darfur in 2004—lawyers found that the 1948 UN Convention against genocide did not compel nations to prevent genocide unless it was occurring in their own country. Officials say lawyers came to a similar conclusion this time around.