The Islamic State extremist group has committed genocide by persecuting religious minorities in Syria and Iraq, the European Parliament said in a resolution voted Thursday.
"This is the first time the European Parliament has recognized an ongoing genocide," said conservative EU parliamentarian Lars Adaktusson, who spearheaded the initiative.
"This is ... a decision that aims to help restore the dignity of the millions of victims affected by ISIS' barbaric crimes," he added using an acronym for Islamic State.
The group, also known as Daesh, has deliberately targeted Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen, Shiites, Shabak, Sabeans, Kakae and Sunnis "who do not agree with their interpretation of Islam," the legislature said.
The radical jihadists had made international headlines in 2014 when they attacked the Yazidi minority in Iraq, killing and taking people hostages, including women allegedly used as sex slaves.
The Yazidis, followers of an ancient faith, are regarded by Islamic State as infidels.
The European Parliament called on the international community to take "urgent action" against the "mass murder" of religious minorities perpetrated by the Islamic State, saying they amount also to "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity."
The United Nations has also said that Islamic State violence such as killing people in public spectacles "may, in some instances, amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide."