You can read Secretary of State John Kerry’s full statement here or watch it above. Here is an excerpt:
My purpose in appearing before you today is to assert that, in my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions – in what it says, what it believes, and what it does…
Daesh has executed Christians solely because of their faith; that it executed 49 Coptic and Ethiopian Christians in Libya; and that it has also forced Christian women and girls into sexual slavery.
CNN reports on the significance of this declaration:
This is the first time that the United States has declared a genocide since Darfur in 2004.
The House of Representatives on Monday unanimously passed a resolution labeling the ISIS atrocities against Christian groups in Syria and Iraq “genocide,” a term the State Department had been reluctant to use about the attacks and mass murders by the terror group.
The genocide finding does not legally obligate the U.S. to take any particular action, but it could put pressure on the Obama administration to take more aggressive military action against ISIS. It could also give weight to calls by other lawmakers and humanitarian groups pushing the Obama administration to welcome more refugees into the United States.