Trump signs bill to help religious minorities in Iraq, Syria

Trump signs bill to help religious minorities in Iraq, Syria
President Donald Trump passes out a handful of pens after signing H.R. 390, the "Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018," in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, in Washington. At far left is Callista Gingrich, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, with Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (Source: Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed legislation on Tuesday to help ensure humanitarian relief reaches the members of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria who have been targeted for genocide by Islamic State militants.

"In recent years, IS has committed horrifying atrocities against religious and ethnic minorities in Syria and Iraq, including Christians, Yazidis, Shia and other groups," Trump said.

He said the bill directs U.S. assistance toward persecuted communities, including through faith-based programs. It also allows government agencies to help groups that are investigating and prosecuting IS' "despicable acts."

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., introduced the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act. He said the measure also urges foreign governments to help apprehend IS perpetrators by adding identifying information on suspects to their national security databases.

"The future of endangered religious and ethnic minorities targeted by IS for genocide, and pluralism in the Middle East, will depend on help from the United States." Smith said.