March 17, 2016 - 10:31 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will miss this week's congressional deadline for deciding whether atrocities by the Islamic State against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria should be designated genocide, the State Department said Wednesday, March 16, according to the Associated Press.
Department spokesman Mark Toner said Kerry is taking a "measured" approach and while his decision will come "soon" it will not meet Thursday's deadline. Other officials said they expected the determination could be made next week.
"He recognizes the seriousness of the atrocities committed by this terrorist group as well as the importance of this issue to its victims and survivors," Toner told reporters. "Given the scope and the breadth of the analysis he's contemplating, he will not have a final decision completed by the congressionally-mandated deadline tomorrow. However, this issue is clearly of the utmost importance to him as well as Congress, and we expect him to reach a decision very soon."
Congress had set a March 17 deadline for the determination. Earlier this week, the House passed a non-binding resolution by a vote of 393-0 condemning Islamic State group actions as genocide.
Reaction to the delay from lawmakers was swift.
"This is heartbreaking. There has been ample time for analysis. The evidence of ISIS genocide against Christians, Yezidis, and others is horrifyingly clear," said Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, the Nebraska Republican who authored the bill. "I cannot understand the hesitation by the State Department."
"There's absolutely no reason for further delay," said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
An executive branch determination of genocide by the Islamic State would mark only the second time a U.S. administration has reached that conclusion while a conflict is ongoing.
The first was in 2004, when Secretary of State Colin Powell determined that atrocities being committed in Sudan's Darfur region constituted genocide.