UNITED NATIONS : The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) [also known as ISIL and Da’esh] is committing genocide against Yazidis that amounts to crimes against humanity and war crimes, a United Nations-mandated human rights inquiry reported today.

“Genocide has occurred and is ongoing,” Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, emphasized in releasing the report They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes against the Yazidis.

“ISIS has subjected every Yazidi woman, child or man that it has captured to the most horrific of atrocities,” he said. 

Under the Commission’s mandate, the report focuses on violations committed against Yazidis inside Syria, where it found that thousands of women and girls are still being held captive and abused, often as slaves.

The Commission also examined how the terrorist group forcibly transferred Yazidis into Syria after launching its attacks on northern Iraq’s Sinjar region on 3 August 2014. The information that was collected documents evidence of intent and criminal liability of ISIS’s military commanders, fighters, religious and ideological leaders, wherever they are located, the Commission said.

The findings are based on interviews with survivors, religious leaders, smugglers, activists, lawyers, medical personnel, and journalists, as well as extensive documentary material, which corroborate information gathered by the Commission.

“ISIS has sought to erase the Yazidis through killings; sexual slavery, enslavement, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and forcible transfer causing serious bodily and mental harm; the infliction of conditions of life that bring about a slow death; the imposition of measures to prevent Yazidi children from being born, including forced conversion of adults, the separation of Yazidi men and women, and mental trauma; and the transfer of Yazidi children from their own families and placing them with ISIS fighters, thereby cutting them off from beliefs and practices of their own religious community,” according to the report.

ISIS separated Yazidi men and boys older than 12 years old from the rest of their families, and killed those who refused to convert, in order to destroy their identity as Yazidis. Women and children often witnessed these killings before being forcibly transferred to locations in Iraq, and thereafter to Syria, where the majority of captives remain, the Commission found.