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US: Islamic State crimes against religious minorities constitute 'genocide'

John Kerry has accused the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) of committing crimes against humanity. Specific minorities are being targeted by the hardline Islamist militants.

The top US diplomat said on Thursday that the terror group's crimes against Christians, Yazidis and Shiites in occupied parts of Syria and Iraq were clear examples of "genocide."

"Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology and by actions, in what it says, what it believes and what it does," Kerry said during a press conference in Washington, using an alternate name for "IS." "Daesh is also responsible for crimes against humanity against these same groups."

Kerry's statement follows a congressional decision to declare IS violence against religious minorities genocidal.

"Naming these crimes is important, but what is essential is to stop them," Kerry told reporters.

The US has been engaging in airstrikes against IS since the summer of 2014. It has also supported Iraqi, Kurdish and Syrian opposition forces on the ground.

blc/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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