Isil is committing an ongoing genocide against Yazidi men, women and children in Syria, the United Nations said yesterday (Thursday) as it called for the case to be referred to the International Criminal Court.
The report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria - "They Came to Destroy" - describes the mass killing of men and boys who refused to convert to Islam, their throats cut or heads severed in front of wives and daughters who then disappeared into a network of sexual torture and slavery.
"Genocide has occurred and is ongoing", said Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN Commission, as he described how civilians had been gassed to death and starved in their homes. Carla Del Ponte, a member of the UN commission producing the report, said it was viewed as a "road map for prosecution". The document says the UN Security Council should "consider engaging its Chapter 7 powers", which could authorise a further use of force against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Isil killed, captured or enslaved thousands of Yazidis when it overran the town of Sinjar in northern Iraq in August 2014. The UN report - based on interviews with survivors, smugglers and medical personnel - said Isil had systematically captured Yazidis in Iraq and Syria, seeking to "erase their identity" through a campaign of genocide.
It is a historic designation, marking the first time the UN has recognised genocide carried out by a non-state actor. "Isis permanently sought to erase the Yazidis through killing, sexual slavery, enslavement, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, and forcible transfer causing serious bodily and mental harm," Mr Pinheiro said, using an acronym for Isil.
Amal Clooney, a human rights lawyer, said last week she would be representing victims of the Yazidi genocide. More than 3,200 Yazidi women are still being held by Isil, mostly in Syria.
u?The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said yesterday that air strikes hit a number of neighbourhoods in rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo just hours into a 48-hour ceasefire announced by Russia. The Observatory said there were reports of injuries.