Iraq and the U.S. are losing ground to the Islamic State

Gaood, a 53-year-old businessman in Amman, talked through the night with tribal elders back home. He says he tried repeatedly to reach Gen. John Allen, the U.S. special envoy for Iraq and Syria, to plead for emergency help. By the time Allen got the message, it was too late. Urgent warnings that the town was about to be overrun also went to the Iraqi army commander at nearby Al-Asad Air Base. There was no response except for a helicopter that took surveillance pictures and then left.

Allen said in an e-mail message late Thursday that he had forwarded Gaood’s messages to Centcom and the joint operations center in Baghdad as soon as he was aware of them and that the messages were acknowledged immediately. Allen said he has been a constant advocate for supporting the tribes across Iraq and is seeking ways to expand that support.

Early Thursday, Gaood advised the local leaders that they had no alternative but to negotiate a truce. Before dawn, a convoy left for Haditha, to the north, with 60 cars carrying local police officers, soldiers and former members of the U.S.-created tribal militia known as the Awakening. If they had stayed in the town, they would have been massacred when the extremists took control.