John Kerry close to deciding if ISIS killings are genocide

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Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryThe Atlantic Council's questionable relationship with Gabon’s leader State Dept. months late on explaining Clinton aide's missing emails The evidence backs Trump: We have a duty to doubt election results MORE is nearing a decision on whether to declare the killings of religious minorities by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) “genocide.”

Citing several administration officials, The Associated Press reported that Kerry could make the determination as early as next week, though a legal review is still ongoing.

The House is expected to vote Monday on a resolution expressing that it is the sense of Congress that the atrocities perpetrated by ISIS against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria include “war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.”

According to the report, an executive branch determination of genocide would be different and mark only the second time a U.S. administration has reached that conclusion while a conflict is ongoing. The first came from Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2004 when he declared that the atrocities being committed in Sudan's Darfur region constituted genocide.

The U.N. Convention legally defines “genocide” as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, such as killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization, claims the legal standard for genocide has been met.

Its report names more than 1,100 Christians who have been killed by ISIS militants and details instances of people being kidnapped, raped, sold into slavery and driven from their homes, along with the destruction of churches, the AP reported.