US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that violence by Islamic State (Isis) against religious minorities was genocide, saying the United States would do everything it could to hold the militant group accountable.

On Thursday 17 March Kerry said in a statement to reporters: "In my judgement Daesh (Isis) is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shi'ite Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation by ideology and by actions in what it says what it believes and what it does."

The last time a US administration made a genocide finding was in 2004, when then-Secretary of State Colin Powell determined that genocide had occurred in Darfur and that the government of Sudan was responsible.

Kerry said the US would be equally dogged in their pursual of the crimes committed by Isis (Daesh): "I want to be clear I am neither judge nor prosecutor nor jury with respect to the allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing by specific persons. Ultimately the full facts must be brought to light by an independent investigation and through formal legal determination made by a competent court or tribunal. But the United States will strongly support efforts to collect document preserve and analyse the evidence of atrocities."

Speaking about the latest coalition efforts to defeat IS (Daesh) Kerry said that coalition forces are "preparing for future efforts to liberate occupied territory with an eye to the protection of minority communities. This is the fight that Daesh has defined, Daesh created this, Daesh is targeted their victims, Daesh has self-defined itself as genocidal," Kerry said in conclusion.