Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East are deliberately targeted by ISIS/Daesh for destruction. The number of Christians has dropped from over 2 million to under a million in Syria, and from 1.4 million to under 260,000 in Iraq in just a few years. The Yazidis in the region of Kurdistan have been almost entirely wiped out. The atrocities include assassinations of church leaders, torture, mass murders, kidnapping, sexual enslavement and systematic rape of Christian and Yazidi girls and women, destruction of churches, monasteries, and cemeteries.
International law sets out strict criteria for when it is accurate to use the term genocide. According to the UN Genocide Convention of 1948 it refers to acts committed with the specific intent to “destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” It needs to involve intentional killing of members of this group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to these members, 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.
On 21 September 2017, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting Iraq in prosecuting members of ISIS/Daesh for crimes committed against religious minorities in the region.