US Lawmakers Pass Resolution Calling ISIS Aggression Against Christians 'Genocide'

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The House of Representatives passed a resolution to declare atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria as 'genocide.'

The resolution was approved with 393-0 votes and puts pressure on the Obama administration to decide on the issue before the March 17 deadline, which is the day mandated by the Congress for the Obama administration to determine if persecution of minorities in war-torn Middle Eastern countries is really a genocide.

The decision of declaring the conflict a genocide will have far-reaching consequences, and will obligate US to step up military intervention in Iraq and Syria, experts say.

The resolution followed closely on the heels of a new report by Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians, which describes ISIS aggression in the Middle East.

A number of Republican lawmakers supported the decision to label the ISIS-perpetrated violence in the middle east as genocide, even though government treats that determination to militarily intervene in other countries with caution.

"When ISIS systematically targets Christians, Yezidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities for extermination, this is not only a grave injustice-it is a threat to civilization itself," Jeff Fortenberry, (R-Ne), said in a statement. "We must call the violence by its proper name: genocide."

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wi) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca) backed him.

"What is happening in Iraq and Syria is a deliberate, systematic targeting of religious and ethnic minorities. Today, the House unanimously voted to call ISIS's atrocities what they are: a genocide. We also will continue to offer our prayers for the persecuted," Ryan said.

McCarthy reiterated the stance, and pushed for the intervention.

"We want to label what this is so this never happens and should not happen, and someone has to stand up," he told Fox News.

White House Spokesman Josh Earnest was asked on March 1 why the administration has not yet decided on calling the ongoing strife as genocide. He replied, "My understanding is the use of that word involves a very specific legal determination that has at this point not been reached."

The House also passed a resolution by 392-3 votes, to punish Assad regime for atrocities committed by it.

The US had termed mass killings in Sudan as genocide in 2004, only once in recent history, but did not intervene at the time, but went to the UN to form an agreement on military intervention.

The UK parliament has not yet labelled ISIS persecution of minorities a genocide, even though the European parliament has done so.