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Story highlights

"Yes. I will now (call it genocide)," Clinton said at a small town hall event here

Religious leaders and scholars have been pushing Clinton and President Barack Obama to label the killing and rape genocide

(CNN) —  

Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that ISIS is committing genocide against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

“Yes. I will now (call it genocide),” Clinton said at a small town hall event here. “And I will because we have enough evidence.”

She added, “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 territory controlled by ISIS.”

While sweeping into control of large portions of Syria and Iraq, ISIS has targeted a host of religious minorities, including Christians, Kurdish Muslims and Yazidis, a small Iraqi minority.

“I think I was asked this a couple months ago, and I said, you know, that term carries with it legal import. It is a very important concept and label for behavior that deserves that name,” Clinton said. “I said we are only at the beginning at seeing this and I am not sure yet we have enough evidence. I am sure now we have enough evidence.”

Religious leaders and scholars have been pushing Clinton and President Barack Obama to label the killing and rape genocide, arguing that the designation would allow specific actions to be taken to stop it and could save lives.

In particular, Yazidi women have been targeted by ISIS, with many being forced into sex slavery.

Pope Francis has also called what is happening to Christians in ISIS-held territory “genocide.”

“Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus,” Pope Francis said during a trip to South America this year. “In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”

Obama said in September 2014 that the terrorist group “threatened a religious minority with genocide” but his administration and State Department have yet to say the group has perpetrated genocide against religious minorities in ISIS-controlled territory. Obama did, however, say last week that he was praying for Christians being persecuted by ISIS.

“In some areas of the Middle East where church bells have rung for centuries on Christmas Day, this year they will be silent; this silence bears tragic witness to the brutal atrocities committed against these communities by ISIL,” Obama said in a statement, using another acronym for the terror group.

CNN’s Kristen Holmes contributed to this report.