Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton said for the first time on Tuesday that the Islamic State group is committing "genocide" against Christians and other Middle Eastern religious minorities, such as the Iraqi Yazidis, reported Reuters.
During a town hall meeting on Tuesday night in Berlin, New Hampshire, a voter asked Clinton: "Will you join those leaders, faith leaders and secular leaders and political leaders from both the right and the left, in calling what is happening by its proper name: Genocide?"
Clinton, who has been reluctant to use the term in recent months, responded, "Yes, I will now. I will because we now have enough evidence."
"What is happening is genocide, deliberately aimed at destroying not only the lives but wiping out the existence of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East in territories controlled by ISIS, and so I agree with you," Clinton explained, according to ABC News.
The Islamic State group has taken control of large swaths of land in Syria and Iraq, and in doing so, has targeted a number of religious minorities, including Christians, Kurdish Muslims and Yazidis, according to CNN, which noted that many Yazidi women have been forced into sex slavery.
Pope Francis said in July that the terror group is committing genocide against Christians, and presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio referred to it as genocide in Sioux City, Iowa, on Tuesday. While the Obama administration faces growing calls to officially declare that the Islamic State group is committing genocide, a move that would increase pressure on the president to take protective action, neither Obama nor the State Department has explicitly declared that the group has perpetrated genocide, according to Politico.
On Tuesday night, Clinton recalled how she has been asked in recent months to label it a genocide, but decided to decline.
"I said, you know that term carries with it, legal import. It's a very important concept and label for behavior that deserves that name. And I said we are only beginning to see this and I'm not sure yet we have enough evidence. I'm sure now we have enough evidence," Clinton said.