Congress voted yesterday to label ISIS atrocities in Syria and Iraq "genocide," and called for setting up a Syrian war crimes tribunal under United Nations authority.
Agence France Presse reports that the House of Representatives unanimously passed a non-binding resolution pressuring the Obama administration to call ISIS' targeting of Christians, Yezidis, and other minorities "war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide."
"What is happening in Iraq and Syria is a deliberate, systematic targeting of religious and ethnic minorities," said House Speaker Paul Ryan. "Today, the House unanimously voted to call ISIS's atrocities what they are: a genocide."
One would think this would be a no-brainer, considering the all-out war being waged on Christians in Muslim territories all over the Middle East, but the State Department so far has refused to use the "genocide" terminology. Secretary of State John Kerry said recently that he needed more research to determine if the label is warranted. One wonders if Kerry and the Obama administration would be so cautious if Muslims were being slaughtered daily in Christian countries.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said that Kerry would reach a determination "soon," although Kerry will likely miss Congress' March 17 deadline to formally decide.
Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, a California Republican, urged the White House not to "drag out" a decision. "ISIS is guilty of genocide," he said:
"It has been using mass murder, beheadings, crucifixions, rape, torture and enslavement in its deliberate campaign to eliminate religious minorities and bulldoze their history."
He pressed the Obama administration to "seek accountability for Bashar al-Assad's heinous war crimes against his own people," noting that more than 18,500 children are among the hundreds of thousands of people killed in the brutal conflict.
Representatives also voted 392 to 3 for a resolution urging the White House to urge the U.N. Security Council to establish a Syrian war crimes tribunal, calling actions by the Syrian regime and others "gross violations of international law amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity."