Secretary of State John Kerry declared Thursday that ISIS has been committing genocide in Iraq and Syria.
Using another name for the Sunni militant group, Kerry said, "Daesh kills Christians because they are Christians, Yazidis because they are Yazidis and Shia because they are Shia."
He said the group is "genocidal by self-proclamation, its ideology and by its actions" and that the international community must preserve what the militants are trying to "erase."
The designation marks just the second time a U.S. administration has declared that a genocide was being committed during an ongoing conflict. The first genocide designation during a time of war was in 2004, when Secretary of State Colin Powell determined that atrocities being committed in Sudan's Darfur region constituted genocide.
Congress had put mounting pressure on the State Department to label ISIS atrocities a genocide and set a March 17 deadline for Kerry to determine his findings.