UN: Islamic State commits genocide against Iraqis

The United Nations said that Islamic State is committing genocide against the Yazidi religious minority in Iraq and Syria, as it urges further international action against the terror group.

In a report released Thursday, the organization said Islamic State has sought to destroy the Yazidis through mass killings and other abuses, including sexual slavery, torture and forced conversions. It said some Yazidi children were being separated from their families and placed with the group’s fighters.

“Genocide has occurred and is ongoing. [Islamic State] has subjected every Yazidi woman, child or man that it has captured to the most horrific of atrocities,” Paulo Pinheiro,chairman of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, said in a statement.

Islamic State blitzed the tiny ethnic Kurdish community in summer 2014 as it captured large swaths of northern and western Iraq, threatening to massacre thousands and prompting a U.S.-led coalition to begin an air campaign against the terror group. It marked the first armed U.S. intervention in Iraq since it withdrew troops in December 2011 after an occupation lasting nearly nine years.

Over 3,200 Yazidi women and children are still held by the group in its self-declared caliphate, Thursday’s report said, part of its campaign against non-Muslims and others who don’t adhere to its strict interpretation of Islam. The Yazidis practice a pre-Islamic, monotheistic religion.

The U.N. has previously described widespread human rights abuses against the Yazidis and other minorities in Syria and Iraq, including a 2015 report urging the Security Council to refer Islamic State to the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide for their slaughter of Yazidis.

The Security Council in December approved sanctions blocking Islamic State from conducting international banking and financial transactions. It provided guidelines to countries for tracking funds and improve intelligence sharing, and requires them to report back to the U.N. on the measures’ implementation.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also said in March that the Sunni Muslim extremists were committing genocide against minorities including Yazidis and Christians, as he sought to demonstrate the need for international cooperation to fight the group.

But the determination doesn’t commit the U.S. to additional actions against Islamic State, nor does it figure into prosecutions of the group’s members.

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