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Iraq's UN Ambassador Says IS Fighters Are Committing Genocide


In this video image released by the Egyptian Defense Ministry, an Egyptian fighter jet lands in Egypt, Feb. 16, 2015.
In this video image released by the Egyptian Defense Ministry, an Egyptian fighter jet lands in Egypt, Feb. 16, 2015.

Iraq's U.N. ambassador alleged Tuesday that Islamic State militants were committing genocide, a day ahead of an emergency Security Council session.

The session comes in the wake of the extremist group's claim that it massacred 21 Christian Egyptians in Libya.

Mohamed Ali Al-Hakim told Security Council members, "These terrorist groups have desecrated all human values. They have committed the most heinous criminal terrorist acts against the Iraqi people, whether Shi'ite, Sunni, Christians, Turkmen, Shabak or Yazidis. These are, in fact, crimes of genocide committed against humanity that must be held accountable before international justice."

He spoke as reports surfaced that the charred remains of dozens of people had been found in the Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, which came under Islamic State control last week.

The council is under pressure to act quickly after IS militants released a video this week showing the beheadings of Christian Egyptian workers in Libya, in the first staged killings the group has publicized outside its controlled territories in Iraq and Syria.

Jordan, which recently saw one of its air force pilots brutally slain by the IS, called for Wednesday's emergency session.

Egypt's foreign minister is in New York for the meeting after President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi asked the council on Tuesday to mandate international military intervention in Libya.

"What happened is a hateful crime against humanity, not only against Egyptians," el-Sissi told France's Europe 1 radio, a day after his forces retaliated against the killings by launching airstrikes against what Cairo said were Islamic State militants in eastern Libya.

"I address this message here to Europeans and the French in particular," he said. "I said it to the French president four months ago when I met him: Watch out — what's happening in Libya will transform the country into a breeding ground that will threaten the entire region, not just Egypt, but Egypt, the Mediterranean basin and Europe."

Warning to 'Crusaders'

In the video showing the beheadings, reportedly filmed on the Libyan coast, a hooded militant said the group aspired to confront Christianity. He warned "all Crusaders" that the group aimed to "conquer" Rome, long the geographic nexus of European Christianity and a launching point for the medieval Crusades in the Holy Land.

Despite diplomatic efforts at mediation, parallel governments and warring militias in Libya are struggling for control, creating a power vacuum and lawlessness four years after the uprising that ousted then-leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The U.N. human rights chief on Tuesday called on Libyans to overcome crippling political divisions that have fractured the country to unite against Islamist extremism.

“The brutal murder of these men, and the ghastly attempt to justify and glorify it in a video, should be roundly condemned by everyone,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Al Hussein wrote in a statement.

The U.N. authorized airstrikes in Libya during the rebel push to oust Gadhafi, allowing NATO to attack Libyan forces under a mandate to protect civilians.

Libya's air force, which is backed by the country's internationally recognized government — and not by a parallel administration in the capital — joined Egypt in Monday's airstrikes, which killed dozens of militants and several civilians, according to military officials.

Military spokesman Ahmed Al-Mosmari told Egyptian news agency Ahram Online that there was no need for foreign ground troops to counter Islamist militants in Libya.

"This is the job of the Libyan armed forces currently," the website quoted him as saying. "What we need now is support from other countries, including arms support."

Denunciation from Tripoli

The rival parliament in Tripoli, supported by some Islamist groups, denounced Monday's strikes as a violation of international law and Libyan sovereignty.

Omar al-Hassi, prime minister of the administration that overran the capital in August, demanded that the Security Council condemn the Egyptian air raid.

"The National Salvation Government demands the international community, especially the Security Council, to assume their responsibilities, both of them, toward the Libyan people, and to condemn this hostile aggression, and pressure the Egyptian government to stop it," al-Hassi said from the capital Tuesday.

The United States and its anti-Islamic State coalition continue to bomb militant targets in the IS-held areas of Syria, with six strikes in the border city of Kobani on Tuesday, and Iraq, where eight locations were targeted.

Despite advances against the militant group in recent months, at least 30 burned bodies were found in al-Baghdadi in western Anbar province after IS fighters took over the area last week. Several kilometers away, hundreds of U.S. troops were training Iraqi forces at the Ain al Asad airbase, which came under direct attack last week. It remained unclear who the victims were.

Islamic State has targeted both Sunnis and Shi'ites in the country, as well as other religious and ethnic groups.

Some information for this report is from Reuters and AFP.