The U.S. will consider arming tribes in Iraq's al-Anbar province with the precondition that the move is approved by the Iraqi government, Anadolu Agency reoprted reffering to the statement by the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Gen. Martin Dempsey said Iraqi security forces in the province are in defensive positions and would be unlikely be able to respond to a request for assistance from the Albu Nimr tribe, stranded by IS.
"That's why we need to expand the train, advise and assist mission into the al-Anbar province," he said. "But the precondition for that is that the government of Iraq is willing to arm the tribes." Dempsey also noted that there are signals from the Iraqis that they would approve such a measure but nothing yet offical.
The train assist and advice mission will have three components, Dempsey said. The first of which would cover the Iraqi army and peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government; the second is to reach out to the local tribes and third is to form a national guard.
Currently, the focus has been on the Iraqi security forces.
"We got a program in place where we're beginning to restore some offensive capability and mindset to the Iraqi security forces. We need to think about how to do that with the tribes," he said.
The general also said that the tribes should be armed in order to help them link with isolated Iraqi forces spread around Iraqi territory.
"Al-Assad (Iraqi airbase in Anbar) is sitting out there somewhat isolated. Seventh division, 9th division in Taji is somewhat isolated," he said.
"So we need to help the Iraqi security forces - help in the sense of help them plan and enable them to execute - to link these groups up who are currently isolated; and then I think that becomes a platform for reaching out to the tribes," he said.