Hauling bodies from under the rubble, Ahmed al-Dulaimi’s fighters count the cost of defending the only major city in western Iraq yet to fall to Islamic State.

Last week, at least 17 of his men were killed resisting an onslaught to capture Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s biggest province. With government forces weakened and local government leaders fleeing to safety, tribal fighters like Dulaimi’s group are among the last standing.

“We have to fight or Islamic State will kill us,” Dulaimi said by telephone last week, as his men cleared debris from outside the government’s headquarters in the city center. “We have been abandoned by our politicians.” […]