Washington: The situation in Islamic State-controlled territories in Syria and Iraq is dangerous as the dreaded terror group is committing genocide there, the US has said, indicating that it will ramp up its operation in the region.
"What's happening in Iraq and in Syria is deeply troubling. We see this extremist organisation targeting religious minorities. In their propaganda they're featuring evidence of trying to wipe out these religious minorities," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Thursday.
US President Barack Obama has talked on a number of occasions about how this is deeply troubling and is an affront to every person of faith, he said. "The President has ordered military action against IS in Iraq and in Syria. In some cases, there have been military actions that have been ordered specifically to protect religious minorities," he said.
"There certainly is the example of Mount Sinjar, which we have cited here frequently that there were Yazidis who were trapped in it. IS fighters had them cornered, and those IS fighters were vowing to slaughter them," he said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry had also said IS is committing genocide in the areas under its control. "In my judgment, IS is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians and Shia Muslims. IS is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions — in what it says, what it believes, and what it does. It is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities," Kerry said.
The ongoing conflict and lack of access to key areas has made it impossible to develop a fully detailed and comprehensive picture of all that IS is doing and all that it has done, he said. "We have not been able to compile a complete record. I think that's obvious on its face; we don't have access to everywhere. But over the past months, we have conducted a review of the vast amounts of information gathered by the state department, by our intelligence community, by outside groups. And my conclusion is based on that information and on the nature of the acts reported," Kerry said.
Earnest said, "It reflects the gravity of the situation there. And it's one that continues to attract the attention not just of the United States, but it's also why we have been able to build a strong moral case against them, and build a substantial international coalition," he added.
The US has taken steps to protect religious minorities in that region of the world from being the victims of violence at the hands of IS, he asserted. "What it essentially indicates is that the US will cooperate with independent efforts to investigate the genocide," Earnest said.
"There obviously is evidence that has been collected, and we'll make sure that that evidence is preserved, and we'll assist in the effort, collecting and analysing additional evidence of atrocities to support that investigation. But that's the next step in the process, and the US will be supportive of it," he said.