Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists committed genocide against Iraq's Yazidis in the north of the country and carried out crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes against other minorities, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum said on Thursday, according to Reuters.
A report by the museum's Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide determined that the crimes were committed against Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shabak, Sabaean-Mandaean, and Kaka'i people in Nineveh province between June and August of 2014.
ISIS, which has declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria it captured, forced tens of thousands of Yazidis and Christians to flee their homes or face certain death. Members of the group have also taken hundreds of Yazidi women captive and have been holding them in schools in Mosul.
"We believe Islamic State has been and is perpetrating genocide against the Yazidi people," the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s report said. "Islamic State's stated intent and patterns of violence against Shia Shabak and Shia Turkmen also raise concerns about the commission and risk of genocide against these groups."
The UN has said the ISIS campaign of killings, abductions and rape against Yazidis may amount to genocide – but the International Criminal Court (ICC) has made clear that it would not prosecute the group.
ISIS have seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria. Both states are not members of the Hague-based court so its prosecutor is unable to open an investigation unless a referral is made by the 15-member Security Council, noted Reuters.
Islamic State jihadists consider the Yazidis to be devil-worshippers. The Yazidi faith has elements of Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Islam. Most of the Yazidi population, numbering around half a million, remains displaced in camps inside the autonomous entity in Iraq's north known as Kurdistan.
According to the museum report, "Men, women, and children who were kidnapped and are still being held by Islamic State continue to be the victims of atrocity crimes. Their release must be a priority."