The situation in ISIS-controlled territories in Syria and Iraq is "dangerous" as the dreaded terror group is committing genocide targetting religious minorities there, the US has said, indicating it will ramp up its operation in the region.
"What's happening in Iraq and in Syria is deeply troubling. We do see this extremist organisation targeting religious minorities. In their propaganda they're featuring evidence of trying to wipe out these religious minorities," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Thursday.
US President Barack Obama has talked on a number of occasions about how this is deeply troubling and is an affront to every person of faith, he said.
"That is why the President has ordered military action against ISIL in Iraq and in Syria. In some cases, there have been military actions that have been ordered specifically to protect religious minorities," he said.
"There certainly is the example of Mount Sinjar, which we have cited here frequently that there were Yazidis who were trapped in it. ISIL fighters had them cornered, and those ISIL fighters were vowing to slaughter them," he said, using a different acronym for the Islamic State.
This designation is significant, Earnest said.
"It reflects the gravity of the situation there. And it's one that continues to attract the attention not just of the United States, but it's also why the United States has been able to build a strong moral case against ISIL, and build a substantial international coalition," he added.
The US has taken steps to try to protect religious minorities in that region of the world from being the victims of violence at the hands of ISIL, he asserted.
"What it essentially indicates is that the United States will cooperate with independent efforts to investigate genocide," Earnest said.
"There obviously is evidence that has been collected, and we'll make sure that that evidence is preserved, and we'll assist in the effort, collecting and analysing additional evidence of atrocities to support that investigation. But that's the next step in the process, and the United States will be supportive of it," he said while responding to a question.
Earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry said ISIS is committing genocide in the areas under its control.
"In my judgement, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self- proclamation, by ideology, and by actions in what it says, what it believes, and what it does. Daesh is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities," Kerry told reporters.
The ongoing conflict and lack of access to key areas has made it impossible to develop a fully detailed and comprehensive picture of all that Daesh is doing and all that it has done, he said.