Dempsey Explains Why US Didn't Stop Islamic State Massacre of Tribe That Fought Back

October 30, 2014

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq did not prevent the massacre of 400 people from the Albu Nimr tribe in Iraq’s al Anbar province because the U.S. did not have adequate ground intelligence to be made aware of the impending massacre.

"The Iraqi Security Forces in al Anbar province are in defensive positions and would be unlikely to be able to respond to a request for assistance from the Albu Nimr tribe," Dempsey said. "We could, with our airpower, if we had the proper ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) at the point when it was requested."

Dempsey said he was not aware that the Albu Nimr tribe made a request for assistance from U.S. or Iraqi Security Forces. He did note, however, that the massacre underlines the need to expand the "train, advise, and assist" program into al Anbar province.

CNN reporter Jim Scuitto pointed out that members of the Albu Nimr tribe were risking their lives in a way that the anti-IS coalition was "desperate" for. Yet, they received no aid except for an airdrop of meals on Monday.

Dempsey said unlike the airstrikes that stopped a massacre of Yezidis on Mt. Sinjar, the Albu Nimr massacre was more difficult to prevent because Islamic State forces were "intermingled" with those of the tribe.