Kerry says DAESH commits genocide against several groups

US Secretary of State John Kerry says DAESH terrorist group is committing genocide against Muslims, Christians and Yazidis

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry attends a news conference after meeting over the crisis in the Mideast, at the Quai d'Orsay ministry in Paris, France, March 13, 2016.

Updated Mar 18, 2016

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that DAESH terrorist group commits genocide on several groups including Muslims, Christians and Yazidis.

“DAESH is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups,” added Kerry.

Kerry said DAESH kills Christians because they are Christians, Yazidis because they are Yazidis and Muslims because they are Muslims.

“Its entire worldview is based on eliminating those who do not subscribe to its perverse ideology.”

Asked if the genocide finding was emphasising a view held by some that the West is engaged in a battle with Islam, a senior US official noted that Kerry’s determination included Muslims as well as Christians and Yazidis.

“I want to be clear. I am neither judge, nor prosecutor, nor jury with respect to the allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing,” the American politician said.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Wednesday, "Acknowledging that genocide or crimes against humanity have taken place in another country would not necessarily result in any particular legal obligation for the United States."

Over recent years, large territories have been seized by DAESH terrorists as they swept through Iraq and Syria.

“We know that in areas under its control, DAESH has made a systematic effort to destroy the cultural heritage of ancient communities,” Kerry said.

Hostages captured by DAESH have been filmed while being killed in extreme ways by the group such as being beheaded, shot dead, blown up with fuses attached to their necks and drowning in cages lowered into swimming pools.

Kerry said DAESH had massacred Turkmen Muslims at Tal Afar and Mosul, besieged and starved the Turkmen town of Amerli and kidnapped hundreds of Turkmen women, “raping many in front of their families.”

The US has been targeting areas in Syria with air strikes, but has not released much information on what role ground troops play in fighting DAESH.

"It may strengthen our hand in getting other countries to help. It may free us against some constraints, but the reality is that when you are fighting somebody, you don't need another reason to fight them," said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank.

"Our goal, after all, is not just to defeat DAESH– only to find that in a few years some new terrorist group with a different acronym has taken its place. Our purpose is to marginalise and defeat violent extremists once and for all," Kerry added. 

The US was previously criticised by Turkey for supporting small-scale groups affiliated with terrorism just because they are fighting DAESH.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan harshly criticised the US following State Department Spokesman John Kirby’s remarks that the country will continue to support PYD, an affiliate of the PKK terrorist group. 

“Is there a difference between PKK and PYD, or YPG? With all records on them in our hands, we tell the US that they are terrorist organisations but US officials say they don’t recognise them as terrorist organisations?” Erdogan said during a meeting with village headmen in the capital city of Ankara.

He continued with calling on the United States and said, "Are you on our side or the side of the terrorist PYD and YPG organisation?”

Preventative Measures

Kerry said the US had started air strikes in 2014, but did not directly answer a question on why the Obama administration had not done more to prevent genocide.

US officials claim their air strikes have reduced the amount of territory the group controls, however it is seen that this is not the case in actual fact as DAESH terrorists have expanded in size and continued to seize more areas throughout the five year period of the civil war.

The upcoming peace talks will be the first to be held in more than two years and come amid an unprecedented cessation of hostilities, which has been accepted by Bashar al Assad's regime and most mainstream opposition groups.

The cessation, the first of its kind in the five-year-long war that has killed over 250,000 people, has sharply reduced the fighting over the past two weeks, giving rise to hope that this diplomatic initiative will succeed where all previous efforts failed.

The cessation was agreed on after UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura called off a previous attempt to convene talks last month.

The State Department earlier had predicted it would miss a deadline set for Thursday on making a decision on whether atrocities committed by the group amounted to genocide.

The Obama administration was pressured by Republicans to call the atrocities in Syria and Iraq acts of genocide.

One chamber, House of Representatives, passed a resolution this week labeling the group's violence against religious and ethnic minorities as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

TRTWorld and agencies