On Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the US government is officially designating the atrocities committed by ISIS as "genocide."
Speaking from the State Department briefing room, Kerry said,
My purpose in appearing before you today is to assert that in my judgement [ISIS] is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims. [ISIS] is genocidal by self-proclamation by ideology and by actions in what it says, what it believes and what it does. One element of genocide is the intent to destroy an ethnic or religious group in whole or in part. [ISIS's] entire world view is based on eliminating those who do not subscribe to its perverse ideology. The fact is that [ISIS] kills Christians because they are Christians, the Yazidis because they are Yazidis, [and] Shia because they are Shia.
This declaration followed a resolution passed by the House of Representatives on Monday aiming to pressure the Obama administration to label ISIS's killings of Yazidis, Christians and other ethnic groups in Syria and Iraq as "genocide," CNN reports.
This is the first time the US government officially declared genocide since Darfur in 2004.
The term "genocide" is not thrown around lightly. In many cases, such as the Armenian Genocide, there is a great deal of reluctance from the US government to declare a genocide in an official capacity. There are strong legal implications surrounding the word, but using it doesn't necessarily require action.
Still, it's conceivable this announcement could put more pressure on the US government to ramp up its efforts against ISIS. But, it's still very unclear what consequences this declaration will have in the long run.