The Hashd Sha'abi plays an important role in security matters in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, including the Khanaqin area that has been disputed between the central government in Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government. To learn more of the Hashd's role in Khanaqin, I conducted an interview with the media for the Hashd Sha'abi Commission office in Khanaqin. This interview was conducted on 13 January 2020. It is slightly edited and condensed for clarity. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Brigade 110 of the Hashd Sha'abi Commission (Badr- Fayli Kurds) is one of the main Hashd groups in the Khanaqin area.
Q: When was the office in Khanaqin established? And what are its responsibilities exactly?
A: The office was established after 16 October 2017 at the time the Kurdish forces withdrew from Khanaqin. At the time the office was by the name of the Khanaqin agency affiliated with the Diyala office and in 2019 we became a special office by the name of 'Khanaqin office/Hashd Sha'abi Commission' affiliated with the Mu'awaniya of the Affairs of the Martyrs and Fighters in Baghdad. And our responsibilities are organizing the ranks of the fighters from the Hashd Sha'abi and caring for the families of the martyrs and the wounded of the Hashd Sha'abi in Khanaqin. That is, we help the families of the martyrs and the wounded when they need any help, and any person in the Hashd Sha'abi who has a problem, we can resolve it for him.
Q: With the orders from the head of the Hashd Sha'abi Commission concerning the framework of the Hashd Sha'abi last year have there been any changes in the Khanaqin office?
A: Changes like what?
Q: For example in the office's responsibilities? Or has nothing happened?
A: No all the offices have been closed by order of the head of the Hashd Sha'abi Commission, but the Khanaqin office has a special situation because Khanaqin is a disputed area and most of those affiliated in the office are of the people of Khanaqin: therefore the martyr al-Hajj Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis made an exception for the Khanaqin office among all the offices. And our work continues on the same path. There are no changes, only the office director has been replaced.
Q: What brigades of the Hashd are in Khanaqin? How is the security situation generally?
A: Khanaqin has five brigades of the Hashd Sha'abi present on the periphery of Khanaqin: there are Brigade 20 [Liwa al-Taff], Brigade 23 [Badr], Brigade 28 [Saraya Ansar al-Aqeeda], Brigade 110 [Badr: Fayli Kurds], and the first brigade [Badr: Liwa al-Imam Muhammad al-Jawad], and likewise there is a base for the axis command in Khanaqin. They are responsible for security and currently the situation is very good and praise be to God.
Q: There are no problems of Da'esh [Islamic State] cells?
A: Previously there were until around a month and a half ago when the top guys were eliminated in a special operation. They were bombed and eight of them were killed and from that time praise be to God the situation has been under control. They have activities in the areas of Amam Weis, Naft Khanah and the Hamrin mountains range, and currently in Khanaqin their activities have been weak since the killing of those eight.