The U.S. is holding talks with Sunni Muslim officials in Iraq who have requested help in organizing grass-roots fighting forces to counter an extremist militant group seizing territory across the country.

The meetings follow an outreach by Iraqi governors of Sunni-dominant provinces, who sent letters to Secretary of State John Kerry in late June seeking U.S. support before the jihadist group, which calls itself the Islamic State, drags “the whole region into darkness with them.”

After a series of smaller rendezvous, U.S. officials met last week with the governors, tribal leaders and other Iraqi politicians in the city of Erbil to discuss recruiting and organizing fighters in four Sunni-dominant provinces where the Islamic State has snatched territory, said several participants. […]