The Islamic State’s targeting of religious minorities in the territory it controls is one of the biggest threats to international religious freedom, the U.S. Department of State noted in an annual report.
ISIS is the only group or malevolent actor named in the report’s preface, indicating the seriousness with which the Trump administration views the group’s threat.
“ISIS has and continues to target members of multiple religions and ethnicities for rape, kidnapping, enslavement, and death. ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in areas it controlled. ISIS is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups, and in some cases against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities,” the report declares.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson similarly decried the terrorist group noting its genocide of minorities as of one of “the more egregious and troubling examples.” The report notes that “fewer than 250,000 Christians remaining in the country” down from a pre-2002 number of “of between 800,000 and 1.4 million persons.”
The State Department report confirms a 2016 report from the United Nations determining that ISIS committed acts of genocide against Yazidi minorities in Iraq and Syria. “ISIS permanently sought to erase the Yazidis through killing, sexual slavery, enslavement, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, and forcible transfer causing serious bodily and mental harm,” the report declared.
The amount of territory under the group’s control is slowly diminishing as U.S. backed forces encroach on major cities under their control. The U.S. backed Iraqi Security Forces recently retook the city of Mosul in Iraq and the U.S. backed Syrian Democratic Forces now control approximately half of the terrorist group’s capital in Syria.