“The hunt for ‘plan B’, by Labott; Syria Needs a George Washington; Syria could become like North Korea; “The Burial Brigade of Homs,” by Putz

The hunt for ‘plan B’ – planning for ‘the day after’ in Syria
By Elise Labott, CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter

Expectations are low for Sunday’s Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul, where representatives from more than 70 nations and international organizations will gather to discuss ways to hasten the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.

The reason is simple. The most critical piece is missing: Plan B.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made no secret of her frustration with the opposition Syrian National Council’s inability to offer a vision for a post-al-Assad Syria that all Syrians can sign on to. This week, Clinton said the United States would be “pushing them very hard” to present such a vision in Istanbul.

She’s not alone. Many a senior administration official has summed up the SNC in two words: “A mess.”

The characterization from European and Arab diplomats may be more diplomatic, but no less critical of the SNC’s lack of leadership, organizational skills and ideas.

“They are all over the map, depending on whom you talk to on any given day,” one senior U.S. official said. “It’s hard to think of what we can do going forward when there is no credible alternative.”

Lessons learned from Iraq

More importantly the SNC, made up of mostly Syrian exiles, has not demonstrated it has support inside Syria. U.S. officials are seeing parallels to the war in Iraq, where the United States relied too heavily upon the Iraqi National Congress – a group of exiles run by businessmen Ahmed Chalabi – which was ultimately found to be corrupt and unreliable. When Baghdad fell and the Baath party disbanded, it became quickly apparent the group had no base inside Iraq from which to draw, and the United States was left to run the country.

“The U.S. is hoping these expats can deliver. They are telling you they can, but their actions and infighting are telling you they can’t,” said the University of Oklahoma’s Joshua Landis, who writes Syria Comment, a daily newsletter on Syrian politics. “The Obama administration fears they will implode or be overtaken by actors within Syria who are better connected to forces on the ground. The Obama administration doesn’t want to be caught going down the same yellow brick trail as the Bush administration did when it backed the Iraqi National Council only to discover that it didn’t have much purchase with Iraqi society.”

Radwan Ziadeh, a member of the SNC and the executive director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Washington, said the criticism of the group’s lack of vision is unfair given the uncertainty of the crisis. “We can come with a general plan, but how can we come up with a detailed plan?” he asked. “That will depend on the key players who emerge from this and we don’t’ know that yet. We don’t know how the regime will fall.”….

Last year the State Department gave modest funding to an initiative run by the U.S. Institute for Peace, aptly titled “The Day After.” The project centers around developing a set of recommendations for key sectors, like how to jump-start the economy, establish security and rule of law and write a new constitution. The participants, who include both Syrian exiles and Western technical experts, have met several times in Europe. Although the Syrian National Council is not officially affiliated with the USIP project, because the leadership was wary of participating in an enterprise funded by the United Sates, several of the group’s members are involved – including Ziadeh, who called it an “important tool” in transition planning.

But the State Department quickly became disenchanted with the project. Officials including U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who previously served in Iraq, felt it bore an uncanny resemblance to the Future of Iraq project,….

“You can get the same people to do the same project for Congo or Zimbabwe,” said Ayman Abdel Nour, who served as al-Assad’s adviser from 1997 to 2004….

Ausama Monajed, a member of the SNC who has taken part in the USIP project, said while it’s important to reach Syrians inside the country, it is unrealistic to expect those under deadly siege by the government to be thinking about the day-after. “The majority of the people can’t talk about tomorrow, they are worried about today,” he said. “They are in the middle of it and cannot see the bigger picture at this stage. There is no stomach for anyone in the inside to look at a health policy when they are being shot.”…

Trying to learn the lessons of Iraq, Ambassador Ford and others have concluded the exiles they are currently working with will not be able to get the economy running, turn on the electricity, or fix a pothole “the day after.”

While not abandoning the SNC entirely, senior officials say the Obama administration in recent months has begun to cast a much wider net for Syrians who can run Syria the day after al-Assad falls. The United States could no longer put all of its eggs in the SNC’s basket.

President Obama himself suggested the shift earlier this week in South Korea when, after a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, he said the U.S. would start aiding opposition groups inside Syria. Officials said non-lethal aid will include secure communications equipment to help opposition leaders on the ground communicate better with each other and with the outside world.

While in Syria, Ford amassed a network of opposition contacts on the ground that has been hard to tap into since the embassy closed and he left the country in February. Now he relies on Skype and other communications technologies to reach those inside…..

Syrian activist Ammar Abdulhamid, a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington, is trying to bridge the gap between the exiles and those Syrians on the ground. He’s bringing together small groups of Syrian experts to brainstorm ideas for a transition, which he is feeding to opposition groups on the ground in Syria who the United States is now trying to reach. “We don’t have a political agenda and aren’t tabling a plan,” Abdulhamid said. “This is to raise public awareness and highlight the issues we are going to be facing once Assad falls. There needs to be a public debate and we want to empower Syrians to do that.”

Molham Aldrobi, a member of the SNC who serves on the Muslim Brotherhood’s Executive Council and has taken part in both the USIP and Abdulhamid’s projects, believes the opposition on the ground will eventually produce the “alternative” the U.S. and others are calling for. But he said more support for the opposition is needed, and that will determine who follows Assad and how much influence the international community will have on that person.

“Bashar al-Assad needs to know the world means business and so do the Syrian people,” he said. “The longer it takes, the more unstable this region will be and the worse the situation will be in the future. Or else the international community may find they won’t like who gets in. Because that person is going to say, ‘hands off, this is mine.'”

Video — Syria opposition: Don’t prolong catastrophe
by on Apr 1, 2012

Burhan Ghalioun, the head of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), said at the opening of the so-called “Friends of Syria” in Istanbul: “We demand serious action. The Syrian regime will inevitably fall. Don’t prolong the catastrophe. The opposition is united; now it is time for you to unite and support the Syrian opposition.”

Mideast expert: Syria faces Iraq-style insurgency
Michael Hughes, Geopolitics Examiner

Syria is descending into a factional civil war which has taken on some of the contours of the insurgency the U.S. fought in Iraq for ten years, “at least in the methods of fighting and growing sectarian divide,” according to Professor Joshua Landis, Director of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. (See Upheaval within the Opposition: Defections, Terrorism, and Preparing for a Phase II Insurgency)

Landis is also author of the blog Syria Comment, a treasure-trove of intelligence that provides more sophisticated analysis on the situation than most Western sources.

Within an email to me on Saturday Professor Landis also stated that Syria could turn into “a North Korea of sorts”, plagued by misery, starvation and displacement, isolated from the international community but with a government that refuses to quit.”

Although Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is unlikely to cease employing violence to quell dissent anytime soon, Landis does not believe the Syrian despot will succeed in the long run:

I doubt he [Assad] will have a lot more success than the US has had in Iraq, although, his army probably understands Syrians a lot better than US troops and commanders did Iraqis. But they [Assad and his security forces] will probably still be provoked into over-reacting to terrorism and road-side bombs and lose the battle for hearts and minds.

Landis, often quoted as an expert in news outlets such as The New York Times and Reuters, explained in a recent post how the Arab Spring hit Syria in a much different way than it did other countries in the region. Syrian expats, as well as U.S. leaders, assumed Assad would fall within months, underestimating the intensity of the sectarian divide:

Syrian opposition members incorrectly believed a “Tahrir Square moment” would arrive within months of the uprising’s start, “eliminating the need for a coherent military strategy, a defined leadership, or how to parry government counter-insurgency operations.”

The reality is elite Westernized Syrian intellectuals living abroad, who want to see a purely secular and peaceful anti-government protest movement, are not the ones doing the bulk of the fighting. Jobless lower-class Muslim youth have been doing the heavy-lifting on the street with funds and arms from the Saudis and other Sunni benefactors.

In a recent discussion with Robert Wright on Bloggingheads.tv, Landis said the militarization and Islamization of the rebel movement was inevitable but, in some ways, perhaps necessary.

No secular nationalist ideology exists in Syria that can rally Syrian fighters. Hence, opposition military leaders have been inspiring their soldiers by relying upon the doctrine that is most readily available: jihad. This same doctrine has worked for Hezbollah and Hamas as well as insurgents in both Iraq and Afghanistan for years.

Syrian rebel leaders have been portraying the struggle as a holy war against a heathen dictator. And because of the Syrian government’s superior firepower, the Syrian rebels have had to resort to asymmetric warfare which includes “martyrdom operations” – so the Islamist ideology is well-aligned with the tactics now required to defeat the infidel.

Despite the humanitarian situation Landis does not believe the international community should intervene militarily because toppling Assad without having a viable alternative will lead to chaos and civil war.

The Syrian people must go through the process of building a nation on their own, Landis asserted, as opposed to having some regime dropped in by foreign powers. The Syrians should look at places like Turkey for examples of how to erect a stable country from the ground up. The Syrians need a George Washington-type who can win long hard-fought battles and unify disparate interests while forging a genuine national identity. As Landis said during the Wright interview:

“Syria needs a George Washington, but Americans cannot invent one for them.”

In the long run, nonintervention will result in less killing, as the Syrians themselves build and establish a legitimate government, as opposed to outsiders intervening and attempting to do it for them.

The Burial Brigade of Homs
An Executioner for Syria’s Rebels Tells His Story
By Ulrike Putz in Beirut,  SPIEGEL ONLINE

Human Rights Watch has condemned abuses committed by Syrian rebels in their stronghold of Homs. But one member of a rebel “burial brigade” who has executed four men by slitting their throats defended his work in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE. “If we don’t do it, nobody will hold these perpetrators to account,” he said.

Hussein can barely remember the first time he executed someone. It was probably in a cemetery in the evening, or at night; he can’t recall exactly. It was definitely mid-October of last year, and the man was Shiite, for sure. He had confessed to killing women — decent women, whose husbands and sons had protested against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. So the rebels had decided that the man, a soldier in the Syrian army, deserved to die, too.

Hussein didn’t care if the man had been beaten into a confession, or that he was terrified of death and had begun to stammer prayers. It was his tough luck that the rebels had caught him. Hussein took out his army knife and sliced the kneeling man’s neck. His comrades from the so-called “burial brigade” quickly interred the blood-stained corpse in the sand of the graveyard west of the Baba Amr area of the rebel stronghold of Homs. At the time, the neighborhood was in the hands of the insurgents.
That first execution was a rite of passage for Hussein. He now became a member of the Homs burial brigade. The men, of which there are only a handful, kill in the name of the Syrian revolution. They leave torture to others; that’s what the so-called interrogation brigade is for. “They do the ugly work,” says Hussein, who is currently being treated in a hospital in the Lebanese city of Tripoli. He was injured when a piece of shrapnel became lodged in his back during the army’s ground invasion of Baba Amr in early March.

He is recovering in relatively safe Lebanon until he can return to Syria and “get back to work.” It’s a job he considers relatively clean. “Most men can torture, but they’re not able to kill from close range,” he explains. “I don’t know why, but it doesn’t bother me. That’s why they gave me the job of executioner. It’s something for a madman like me.”

Before he joined the Farouk Brigade, as the Baba Amr militia is known, last August, the 24-year-old had worked as a salesman. “I can sell everything, from porcelain to yogurt,” he says.

How the Rebels Lost Their Innocence

The bloody uprising against the Assad regime has now lasted for a year. And Hussein’s story illustrates that, in this time, the rebels have also lost their innocence.

There are probably many reasons for that development. Hussein can rattle off several of them. “There are no longer any laws in Syria,” he says. “Soldiers or thugs hired by the regime kill men, maim children and rape our women. If we don’t do it, nobody will hold these perpetrators to account.”

Another reason, he explains, is the desire for vengeance. “I have been arrested twice. I was tortured for 72 hours. They hung me by the hands, until the joints in my shoulders cracked. They burnt me with hot irons. Of course I want revenge.”….

So far, Hussein has cut the throats of four men. Among the group of executioners in Homs, he is the least experienced — something that he almost seems apologetic about. “I was wounded four times in the last seven months,” he says. “I was out of action for a long time.” On top of that, he also has other commitments. “I operate our heavy machine gun, a Russian BKC. Naturally I have killed a lot more men with that. But only four with the blade.” That will change soon, he says. “I hope I will be released from the hospital next week and can return to Homs. Then those dogs will be in for it.”….

House Intel Leaders: Arming Syria a Bad Idea – April 1, 2012

House intelligence leaders said on Sunday that arming Syrian rebels remains unwise because they are unknown actors and Syria’s regime continues to be backed by Iran and Russia.

“I think we both agree that’s probably a bad idea,” said Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, appearing on CNN’s State of the Union.

Appearing with Ranking Member C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-Md., he argued for greater international diplomatic pressure rather than “sending in arms and hoping for the best.”

“We think that there are other things that we can do that we haven’t quite engaged in yet, and that probably need to happen,” Rogers said, including engaging the Arab League so the United States could take a “support role.”

Rogers said President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime appears unmoved by Washington’s pleading, but cautioned against weapons falling into the hands of “bad actors there.”

“We don’t really see Assad’s inner-circle crumbling,” Rogers said. “They believe that they’re winning.”

He added: “Iran and Russia both have stepped up to the plate and can’t afford, in their minds, can’t afford to lose Syria as their toehold.” Said Ruppersberger: “The United States can’t be sheriff for the whole world.” […]

China rejects Obama’s Iran oil import sanctions
by News Sources on April 1, 2012 (Thanks War in Context)

The Associated Press reports: China rejected President Barack Obama’s decision to move forward with plans for sanctions on countries buying oil from Iran, saying Saturday that Washington had no right to unilaterally punish other nations.

South Korean officials said they will continue working with the U.S. to reduce oil imports from Iran, as other U.S. allies who depend on Iranian oil worked to find alternative energy supplies.

Obama announced Friday that he is plowing ahead with the potential sanctions, which could affect U.S. allies in Asia and Europe, as part of a deepening campaign to starve Iran of money for its disputed nuclear program. The U.S. and allies believe that Iran is pursuing a nuclear bomb; Iran denies that.

China is one of the biggest importers of Iranian oil, and its Foreign Ministry reiterated its opposition to the U.S. moves.

Syria eyewitness dispatch: ‘I watched as Assad’s tanks rolled in to destroy a rebel town’,
by News Sources 03.31.2012

John Cantlie, an independent photojournalist, reports from the Syrian town of Saraqeb: The sound of the caterpillar tracks could be felt as much as heard, a deep rumble that sent a rattle through windows and a tremble of fear through the guts. Then we saw them. Huge Soviet-made T72s, accompanied by troop carriers driving slowly […]

Comments (1,242)

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1201. Uzair8 said:

Just came across something interesting. I regularly check to see what Sufi Master Sheikh Nazim have to say about Syria. There hasn’t been anything on the topic for a while.

Came across the following:

Today Mawlana gave important instructions to the Hashemite Royal family and to all Arabs and Muslims.

Addressing Shaykh Hisham Qabbani, Mawlana asked all the ‘ulama to issue a fatwa/legal judgment concerning the necessity of an Islamic Caliphate and the conditions required of whoever occupies that post. Mawlana warned all the ‘ulama who, for their love of dunya, allow tyranny and transgression and tell the people lies and do not show them the True way. The one “To Whom The Throne Of Sham Belongs” is the one, chosen and authorized by all the saints, to unite the Muslims under two flags – the flag of the Prophet (sas) and the flag of the Mahdi (as).


To Whom The Throne of Sham Belongs
Monday, April 09, 2012

[Select english subtitles]


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April 8th, 2012, 6:33 pm


1202. Halabi said:

It looks like I offended the sensitivities of a commentator who uses the N-word openly. Next time I will warn if a video is “graphic” or “disturbing.”

Maybe others could flag obviously false articles from Syria Truth as lies…

Ghufran, I agree with your position of ending the violence and starting dialogue, and I share your apprehension of foreign powers vying for Syria and your disdain for the GCC, although calling them goat emirs and insulting the people there is excessive. But I just don’t see the value in equating the violence, it’s a misrepresentation of the facts. That being said, I didn’t intend to offend you and I hope someday we can meet in person in a free Syria.

On another note, Assad’s boy at the foreign ministry says the “armed terrorist gangs” need to sign some kind of cease-fire document. If the army has only engaged armed gangs, that means that there are dozens of villages and cities that Annan has to go to in order to negotiate the cease-fire, an impossible task.

Some of the gangs don’t exist according to Syrian officials, like the Farouk Brigade whose leader was allegedly killed in Baba Amr in February, a coward’s death as the pro-regime media said. Yet Tlass is still alive and his militia is active. Should he sign a cease-fire, and if so, does that mean that the regime lied about its victory in Baba Amr, when it made fun of “strategic withdrawal” and said it was the “katakeet” brigade?

Today’s statement is clear: Assad has no intention of accepting that his time is up and will do all he can to prolong the inevitable. At this point, those who support him have to understand how destructive his presence is. The biggest fear is no longer the unknown and hasn’t been for a year; it’s the continuation of Assad’s eternal rule.

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April 8th, 2012, 6:37 pm


1203. Tara said:

Mosques and churches are fair targets in the eyes of Assad’s shabeeha.
Are we going to have enough prisons to accommodate the criminal shabeehas?  We may need to ask friendly government to accommodate some in case our prison facilities grew to their full capacity. 

Syria: Easter cancelled in Homs after churches bombed


Homs at Easter used to be a tapestry of colourful parades, said Dima Moussa, a member of the Syrian National Council who recalled years of festive visits to her family in Homs as a young woman.

“You could feel Easter across the whole city. Everybody would put on their best clothes, a the children would parade around their church playing instruments,” said Dima. “We painted boiled eggs and brought them to Church to be blessed.”

“It is a family occasion. Everyone would visit their relatives, bringing with them colourful eggs and chocolate for the children. My grandparents would put on huge meals, often a whole sheep, for the whole family”.

Two weeks ago Moussa’s relatives fled from Homs as government forces began shelling the Christian neighbourhoods of Hamidiyah and Boustan al-Diwan where they lived.

Videos of the area show streets riddled with debris, and concrete buildings shattered by shells and bullet holes.

“The windows of my grandfather’s home were shattered by shelling,” said Moussa. “The regime doesn’t care anymore, they are targeting all neighbourhoods, and mosques and churches.”

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April 8th, 2012, 6:44 pm


1204. omen said:

1194. Halabi said:

More videos of Assad’s soldiers, part of the so-called professional army, celebrating their victories.

[Warning: graphic content]
[Warning: graphic content]

there is no justification for this treatment after they were killed. 5:55 pm

what is the meaning of the red ribbon tied to the epaulets?

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April 8th, 2012, 7:02 pm


1205. jad said:


You didn’t offend me, you are free to post any graphic movie you want, please go a head, I’ll be more than happy to do the same.

‘who uses the N-word openly’

I didn’t know that using the N word as an example of how ugly the others using sectarian N words against Syrian Alawites, would offend s sensitive soul like yourself, I’m happy to see a ‘halabi’ like yourself a strong supporter of fighting the discrimination in language against the Africans while forgetting to have the same attitude toward the discrimination against the Syrian Alawites.

Here is an article from Syria Truth, mo tikram:

قيادي في “الثورة الإسلامية السورية” يرحب بالأخبار التي تتحدث عن بدء المسيحيين مغادرة سوريا نهائيا!؟

دمشق ، الحقيقة ( خاص ) : رحب الشيخ الوهابي التكفيري محمد الأمين ، عضو “الهيئة العامة للثورة (الإسلامية) السورية” و عضو “المجلس الوطني السوري”، بالأنباء التي تتحدث عن بدء المواطنين السوريين من أبناء الطائفة المسيحية مغادرة سوريا نهائيا “خوفا من السلطة الإسلامية القادمة” التي يعد لها “الأخوان المسلمون” وحلفاؤهم . وقال الشيخ التكفيري على صفحته الخاصة في موقع ” فيسبوك”، والتي وضع فيها علم “القاعدة” بدلا من صورته (!!؟)، “الحمد الله نصارى سوريا يحزمون أمتعتهم” ، متسائلا ” لم البقاء بين قوم تعادونهم بينما أعلن (الرئيس الفرنسي) ساركوزي أن أوربا مستعدة لاستقبالكم جميعا”!؟

وكان الشيخ الأمين يشير بذلك إلى تقرير أورده موقع “حزب الكتائب” اللبناني ، ووسائل إعلام عربية عديدة، نقلا عن صحف غربية، يتحدث عن آلاف المسيحيين السوريين الذين قرروا هجرة سوريا نهائيا ، وليس مدن المواجهات الساخنة فقط ، خوفا من “المستقبل الإسلامي” الذي ينتظر سوريا ، لاسيما وأن الانتفاضة السورية تحولت نهائيا ومنذ عدة أشهر من انتفاضة شعبية إلى ثورة إسلامية مسلحة.

يشار إلى أن الشيخ التكفيري المذكور كان أصدر العديد من “الدراسات” التكفيرية التي كفّر فيها حتى علماء دين سنة. ووصلت به حماقته وتفاهته في إحدى الدراسات إلى حد وصف الباحث الإسلامي المتنور الدكتور محمد شحرور بأنه ” ماركسي”، بينما وصف رجل الدين الجليل جودت سعيد بأنه ” خبيث وأخبث من شحرور” ، و”اتهم” مفتي الجمهورية أحمد بدر حسون بأنه ” شيعي” متنكر، بينما اتهم الشيخ البوطي بأنه “ضال” ويبث أفكارا ضلالية !! أما دراسته الأكثر “إمتاعا” فهي التي جاءت تحت عنوان ” فتوى تفصيلية منصفة للقبيسيات”!!


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April 8th, 2012, 7:03 pm


1206. Halabi said:

امراة من دوما تتحدى الارهابيين وتقول الله ينصر بشار

“Are the military rebels going to kill the whole society to prove their twisted points? From what I see I guess they are willing and ready to do just that.”

Did anyone kill that woman? Did anyone attack her in the video? It looks like she was able to walk down the street without being attacked. Protesters have been arrested in Damascus for wearing the wrong t-shirt. One man was famously beaten on Syrian TV for repeating an anti-regime slogan at an opposition meeting.

But the men7ebak sees a video of opposition (or terrorist as the headline says) not attacking a woman as a sign of them willing to “kill the whole society.”

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April 8th, 2012, 7:07 pm


1207. jad said:

One of the armed militia snipers were hit while shooting at the Syrian Army, as usual he will be registered as a ‘civilian’ victim.

Be aware that it may be ‘disturbing’:

Syria Tube | قتل القناص والمصور بنيران الجيش العربي السوري


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April 8th, 2012, 7:13 pm


1208. jad said:

‘Did anyone kill that woman? Did anyone attack her in the video?’

Don’t worry, the ‘peaceful’ armed militiamen/3ara3eer do that later, I guess that you didn’t see Syria No Kandahar’s link [ blue diamond ] about that man who opened his mouth on TV and they killed him two days later or for that young man in Hama who spoke to the Arab observers about the armed militia and they hanged him in the village the next morning.

Let me know when you see those clips.

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April 8th, 2012, 7:19 pm


1209. Tara said:

1122. JNA said:

Tara, I disagree because the best bet for the survival of Assad, the Baath party, and their circle of interests is a transition to elections. Either an outright win or a share in an elected government would buffer them more than this trajectory toward civil war which is eventually a losing situation. And I think that the regime, The Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians are 
smart enough to grasp this.


The Ba’ath party is only a facade to the rule of the mafia family.  Please don’t kid yourself.  The mafia family couldn’t care less about the Ba’ath ideology or Arab nationalism.  Bashar will not agree to cease fire and couldn’t care less about the survival of the Baath party.  It is his family rule what he cares about.  Moreover, Bashar has a full insight into the crimes he has committed.  He was warned and knows well that the international justice strong memory and long arm will eventually get him.  

Assad and his thugs sees one strategy.  It is either him or they will burn the country.  The Russians and Chinese will change when the tide turns.  The Iranians along with HA have their own sectarian agenda.  Sectarianism continues to blind them and have cost them to lose their prestige and status in the middle east.  They are a hopeless case at this point.

Syrians though have news for Bashar.  It will not be him and he will not be able to burn the country.  It is a matter of time, but you and I know that his fate has been sealed.  

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April 8th, 2012, 7:20 pm


1210. Tara said:

I think Erdogan means what he says this time.

Turkey warns of ‘steps’ if Syria mayhem doesn’t end

Turkey’s prime minister has warned of as yet unspecified “steps” if the government of neighbouring Syria fails to abide by an April 10 deadline to cease violence, local media reported on Sunday.

“We will patiently follow the process until April 10,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying by daily Hurriyet.

But “we will implement steps” if violence does not stop after that, he added.

The Turkish premier did not specify what measures his government would take, but the mass influx of refugees fleeing the Syrian unrest has raised alarm in Ankara which has voiced support for the Syrian opposition.

Different scenarios are being floated by the press, including the setting up of a buffer zone along the border with Syria to protect refugees.

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April 8th, 2012, 7:28 pm


1211. omen said:

4:21 – alan, who do you think the majority of palestinians are supporting? the revolution or the regime?

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April 8th, 2012, 7:29 pm


1212. omen said:

7:19 – jad, do you have these clips?

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April 8th, 2012, 7:30 pm


1213. jad said:

Internal struggle between the armed militia is behind the assassination of Amjad Al7ameed, a defected officer:

السلفية الجهادية تغتال ضابط منشق كشف اغتصابها للنساء

“ألقى خطابا في الرّستن، خطابا يعني الكثير لجميع الأطراف، ففي خطابه يفضح ممارسات الخطف والتشليح التي تمارسها بعض العناصر المسلّحة، ومهاجمتهم لمناطق معيّنة ويصفهم بجرأة باللّصوص وبأنّهم عبء على الثّورة”. وأعلن النقيب الحميد أنه “يرفض وصاية العرعور على القتال أو الجهاد في سوريّة، ويتابع بأنّ الرجولة الحقيقية ليست بخطف النّساء وإنّما بمواجهة النظام “.
كما رفض النقيب الحميد اتهام مناطق معيّنة كمدينة السّلميّة

وفي 18- 03 2012 تم اغتيال النّقيب
أمجد الحميد في كمين نُصب له من قبل مجموعة مجهولة،
وفي 5 نيسان 2012 صرّح الناطق الرسمي باسم لوائه “رجال الله” بأنّهم يتّهمون لؤي الزعبي أمين عام مجموعة “المؤمنون يشاركون” السّلفية بالوقوف خلف الجريمة.
“طبعا هذا يبقى اتّهام بحاجة إلى دليل، ولكن ما يهمّنا ليس حقّا إن كان لؤي الزعبي ومجموعته خلف قتل النقيب أمجد الحميد أم لا، ما يهمّنا هو إالمواجاهات الداخلية المسلّحة بين معارضة النّظام نفسها”

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April 8th, 2012, 7:41 pm


1214. Tara said:

“An 80-year-old man,” he says, his voice rising. “What can they want with an 80-year-old man? I’ve worked hard all my life, I’ve done nothing wrong, and this is how my wife and I are treated in our old age.”

Syria Eyewitness: Beaten and burnt… a family’s tale of torture

His wife is now in hospital recovering after the family fled to Lebanon. She escaped the blowtorch but the beating took its toll. Yousef barely speaks, staring blankly around him…..Like thousands of Syrian refugees, they are staying in one of the few Sunni villages in the Hezbollah ruled and Shia-dominated Bekaa valley. In the streets of Baalbek, just down the road, pictures of Assad shoulder to shoulder with the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah adorn the streets, showing local support for the regime across the border.

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April 8th, 2012, 7:52 pm


1215. Tara said:

Animals.  They are animals!

“When they went to torture the wife, the husband was shouting ‘she is pregnant, she has a baby inside her’. But they had no problem with doing this to her. They had no mercy.”


Syrian security officials ‘tortured pregnant mother with electric shocks in front of infant sons’
Syrian security officials tortured a pregnant mother and a father with electric shocks in front of their infant sons, according to an eyewitness who was held in the same cell.

Mr Karnebo spent a day in the same cell as the captive family, who were of Somali origin. As the revolt took hold, all outsiders were viewed with deep suspicion, apparently explaining their arrest.

The father, whose name was Ahmed and who looked to be in his twenties, was in the cell alongside his pregnant wife, who was about the same age. The couple’s two boys – aged about three and five – were also with them. So was Ahmed’s mother, a woman in her fifties.

“The security men wanted them to confess to destroying buildings. They wanted them to admit they had come from outside the country to cause trouble in Syria,” said Mr Karnebo. “But they were just people who had come to Syria to look for a better life.”

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April 8th, 2012, 8:14 pm


1216. mjabali said:

Happy Easter all of the Syrian Christians on this blog and all over the world.

I am not religious to pray but my heart and soul are with you and with every minority person in the Middle East that has been through hardships and discrimination for at least a thousand year if not more.

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April 8th, 2012, 10:04 pm


1217. Norman said:

I got news from my cousin that Hamadia is taken over by the rebels and that they are taking over the houses of the Christians that ran out fearing for thier lives, he feels that it will be difficult to dislodge them if they do not leave by themselves without destroying the area because of the narrow roads.

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April 8th, 2012, 10:05 pm


1218. Norman said:


Thank you, Do you think that Syria might break apart?.

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April 8th, 2012, 10:07 pm


1219. Son of Damascus said:

Man being tortured alive and beaten by callous human beings. If that was not enough to quell their unquenchable desire for blood, they pour gasoline and burn the poor soul alive.


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April 8th, 2012, 10:14 pm


1220. mjabali said:


I am afraid that Syria is going to break apart unless some miracle happens in the near future.

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April 8th, 2012, 10:17 pm


1221. omen said:

alawites are worried about reprisals. tell them to give up assad and after the regime falls, UN peacekeepers can be placed to safeguard them.

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April 8th, 2012, 10:20 pm


1222. omen said:

burning people alive…the regime are nazis.

nazis deserved to be bombed.

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April 8th, 2012, 10:32 pm


1223. Ghufran said:


I made my opinion on the right of self defense a long time ago, it is a god-given right, what you and I say about it does not matter much, but how much of the FSA attacks were actually in self defense?

This site is showered by countless videos of the FSA bragging about attacking army posts and checkpoints, they also attacked buildings and numerous targets in the name of self defense.

I support the right of FSA soldiers to defect and take the sides of unarmed civilians when they are being shot at or when their homes are shelled, however, nobody today believes that the FSA is doing just that, they are on a violent mission to “defeat” the regime militarily, and in the process,Syria will be destroyed then partitioned along sectarian lines.

At one point, armed people need to go back to their families and towns if a peaceful solution is really being sought, what I see is the opposite, in summary, I am sick of how Syrians are treating their country, blaming the regime for this outcome, even if this charge has merit (and it does) is not good enough.

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April 8th, 2012, 11:04 pm


1224. Son of Damascus said:


I don’t know if you know Arabic, but if you would hear what these soldiers of death were saying to this brave man.

While beating him you hear that he is from Baba Amr, they kept yelling at him to swear his allegiance to Bashar, he kept saying : “Oh God”, so they lit him on fire this brave man in one of his last words said: “I salute the Syrian People” and then started in his last rites, they butchered him at the end and kept yelling : “You want freedom!!! You want to salute the Syrian people you Pimp!!!

The commentary adds a level of barbarity that shows what type of lowlife callousness these people are really like.

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April 8th, 2012, 11:05 pm


1225. mjabali said:


Revenge is not going to take you anywhere.

All you have is talk and of course talk is cheap.

Talk is easy dude, you are not even a Syrian and still encourage sectarian killings and street justice in Syria.

But since you quote Ibn Taymiyah and have him be your guiding light I have to expect this sectarian tone from you.

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April 8th, 2012, 11:06 pm


1226. Jad said:

Son of Damascus

Isn’t it obvious that the clip is fabricated?

They did that many times already and this one sounds and looks the same. Even the accent sounds funny ‘biddkon 7 irryehh’.

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April 8th, 2012, 11:17 pm


1227. Jad said:

بلجيكا تشير الى احتمال تدخل انساني بحماية عسكرية في سوريا

اشار وزير الخارجية البلجيكي ديدييه ريندرز الى ان تدخلا انسانيا ميدانيا بحماية عسكرية سيكون ضروريا في سوريا اذا استمرت “الممارسات الوحشية لنظام بشار الاسد”.

وقال ريندرز خلال برنامج “دوليات” على شبكة “تي في 5” التلفزيونية ان “النظام سلك طريق الوحشية وثقتي في نظام الاسد تتراجع”. واشار “هناك خطة مطروحة مع مهلة تنتهي في 10 نيسان”، مضيفاً “اذا لم يتم الالتزام بالخطة فعلينا الانتقال الى المرحلة التالية”.

وشدد ريندرز على ان “تدخلا انسانيا سيصبح ضروريا وسيفترض تواجدا عسكريا مسلحا”. واوضح انه “سيتم التباحث في هذه النقطة خلال الاجتماع المقبل لاصدقاء سوريا المقرر في فرنسا”.

وتابع ريندرز ان “الجميع يقولون انهم يدعمون خطة (موفد الامم المتحدة والجامعة العربية) كوفي انان لكن علينا وضع روسيا والصين امام الامر الواقع”.
(ا ف ب)


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April 8th, 2012, 11:21 pm


1228. Ghufran said:

Just in case you are not cross-eyed yet:

أعلن متحدث باسم ما يسمى “الجيش الحر”، يوم الأحد، إنهم “سيحترمون موعد العاشر من نيسان الجاري لوقف القتال حتى لو لم تسحب الحكومة السورية قواتها من المدن”، ليتضارب ذلك مع تصريح لرياض الأسعد في وقت سابق اليوم بأنه يجب على السلطات سحب الآليات من المدن، إلا أن المتحدث قال “لكن إذا هوجمنا سنهاجم”، على حد تعبيره.

وقال المتحدث باسم “القيادة المشتركة للجيش الحر”، قاسم سعد الدين، “نحن سنوقف القتال يوم 10 (هذا) الشهر وملتزمون بخطة عنان ونحن ملتزمون بدون ما يسحب أي الية.”

on the issue of non Syrians pouring oil on fire:

Training and financial help have been provided to a number of anti regime figures and organizations since the days of GWB, that help took the form of tech training, direct monetary support and political support.

After Saad Hariri was forced to leave his post as a PM, his party and agents started a new campaign to hit back at the regime for playing a role in his political defeat. Since March of last year, Saudi individuals and sheikhs jumped in and now Qatar is helping in paying the bills.

There is not a country in the Middle East today that does not have its feet deep in the Syrian quagmire, many electronic soldiers are actually Lebanese. This is an international bloody fight now, the fuel is Syrian citizens, typically poor, some are religious but some are not, when this is all done, the fuel will be burned and the rich and connected cats will find a way to run away or get richer.


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April 8th, 2012, 11:22 pm


1229. Halabi said:


There are people in this world who don’t have a problem using racial slurs and others who do. I group myself with the latter. I can’t remember if I ever mentioned Alawites in my comments, other than to reprimand KT for his sectarian attacks and perhaps once to explain my view on reconciliation (which didn’t include the annihilation of anyone, FYI). It isn’t my job to police other people’s bigotry on blogs – there’s too much venom on both sides to keep up with.

I don’t think there is an equivalent of N-word for the Alawites, and if there is one I am 100% certain that I didn’t use it. While I don’t care about religion or race, a good portion of your posts have coded slurs against Sunnis (Salafi, 3ar3our, Wahhabi, Takfiri, Iqsa-i, etc.) You are free to your opinions, and I am free to call them out.

We disagree on the fundamental issues of freedom and justice for the Syrian people. You think this revolution will destroy the country and I think the Assad regime already is. You ignore thousands of deaths committed by a powerful military and highlight the few crimes that fit your narrative, and I ignore the casualties among Assad’s soldiers.

I have faith in the Syrian people and you think that only one man can lead it.

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April 8th, 2012, 11:29 pm


1230. Son of Damascus said:


How can someone fake lighting a human on fire and sticking a blade to the back of his head?

Did you hear the hysteria of the goons, they sounded like hyenas circling their kill.

The killers sounded Syrian to me, don’t know what you are on about with their accent.

This is clear evidence of barbarity, and the sad part it is systematic and used as a tool to hail their accomplishments.

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April 9th, 2012, 12:05 am


1231. Ghufran said:

I wonder how western governments will respond if the Syrian oil company gets the nod from Iraq to develop oil fields in Iraq? Iraqi sources indicate that the permit will probably be granted. This comes after confirmation that Egypt, India and China are ignoring the oil embargo against Syria.

The $ according to bankers and gold traders in Syria will reach 65 lira by the end of April barring any unforeseen circumstances, like a swift deterioration in security or a major development with Turkey, unlikely but not unimaginable.
Until today, every $ you send to Syria carries a potential loss of 10-15 lira, SCB is supposedly trying to reduce the difference between official price and BMP to 0.5- 1 Lira to encourage expats and foreigners to send $ and buy Syrian Liras.

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April 9th, 2012, 12:07 am


1232. Ghufran said:


For the record, I have nothing against most Khalijis, I just do not have any respect for their rulers and many of their Taliban-type sheikhs.

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April 9th, 2012, 12:28 am


1233. Syrialover said:

I have just read an interesting but depressing analysis of the intertwining of business with government in Syria and its devastating impact on the rest of the country (sowing the seeds of the current showdown). It names some families who have benefited from the Assad regime who remain nervously loyal.

Below are excerpts from the article, “The Syrian Regime’s Business Backbone” by Bassam Haddad:

By the late 1990s, the business community that the Asads had created in their own image had transformed Syria from a semi-socialist state into a crony capitalist state par excellence. The economic liberalization that started in 1991 had redounded heavily to the benefit of tycoons who had ties to the state or those who partnered with state officials. The private sector outgrew the public sector, but the most affluent members of the private sector were state officials, politicians and their relatives.

After Bashar al-Asad succeeded his father in 2000, the architects of Syria’s economic policy sought to liberalize the economy [details] with a mixture of state and market approaches that ultimately privileged the market, but a market without robust institutions or accountability.

Again, the regime had consolidated its alliance with big business at the expense of smaller businesses as well as the Syrian majority who depended on the state for services, subsidies and welfare. It had perpetuated cronyism, but dressed it in new garb. Families associated with the regime in one way or another came to dominate the private sector, in addition to exercising considerable control over public economic assets.

These clans include the Asads and Makhloufs, but also the Shalish, al-Hassan, Najib, Hamsho, Hambouba, Shawkat and al-As‘ad families, to name a few. The reconstituted business community, which now included regime officials, close supporters and a thick sliver of the traditional bourgeoisie, effected a deeper (and, for the regime, more dangerous) polarization of Syrian society along lines of income and region.


Successive years of scant rainfall and drought after 2003 produced massive rural in-migration to the cities — more than 1 million people had moved by 2009 — widening the social and regional gaps still further. Major cities, such as Damascus and Aleppo, absorbed that migration more easily than smaller ones, which were increasingly starved of infrastructural investment. Provincial cities like Dir‘a, Idlib, Homs and Hama, along with their hinterlands, are now the main battlegrounds of the rebellion.

Those living in rural areas have seen their livelihoods gutted by reduction of subsidies, disinvestment and the effects of urbanization, as well as decades of corrupt authoritarian rule.

It is not just presidential blood relatives like Makhlouf who have remained loyal. Other major players hailing from the above families have stood firm by the regime, financing its orchestrated mass rallies and public relations campaigns, as well as helping to float the Syrian currency. Most malcontents limit themselves to spiriting capital out of the country and expressing private wishes for regime change. Those who do back the uprising do it quietly and extremely carefully, highlighting the fealty of their counterparts.

For these [business cronies]to switch sides would thus be an enormous gamble on the opposition’s forbearance. Big business’ support is not solely responsible for the regime’s resilience, but it would have been difficult for the regime to hold out in Damascus and Aleppo had these monied interests explicitly thrown their lot in with the protesters. The regime-business alliance took shape over decades, and it is unlikely to snap until the very last moment.


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April 9th, 2012, 12:38 am


1234. Jad said:


Don’t you think that you are so unfair when you group all Muslim Sunnis under the ‘code’ you are refering to?

Since when Wahabi, Alqaeda, Salafis are the only representative of Muslim Sunnis worldwide? Do we have Syrian wahabi mosques?

Don’t you see how damaging is that to all of us when we let radicals and terrorists to represent our beliefs. And someone like yourself even promote this notion, that the radicals are THE representatives of us.

Seriously, we need to take our religion away from the bad guys and show it the way it should be.

Salafis, Wahabi and Alqaeda represent only themselves and they are no more than 2% of Muslims worldwide and you want them to be our representatives, that is the most absurd comment I read so far.

(I never used the other words you put, I don’t even know those)

I don’t think that we disagree on the fundamentals of freedom or the necessity of a true social and political revolution, that is your own interpretation of my position not my real position.

About the rest of your comment, it’s not even worth to waste time to explain my position especially when you are fine to ignore half of the victims.

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April 9th, 2012, 12:45 am


1235. Syrialover said:

Good interview with Yassin Haj Saleh, a high calibre veteran anti-Assadist now underground in Damascus.


[Saleh] believes the lack of unity and organization among armed factions and political groups are obstacles to the revolt progressing faster, as is a lack of “new” thinking.

What is most needed, he says, is fresh thinking about a dynamic, grass-roots upheaval that emerged with a vitality that shocked him and other longtime dissidents, both in Syria and outside. Too many Syrian intellectuals, he said, are still shackled to Arab nationalism and other Cold War-era ideas and political ideologies.

“It’s not a matter about living abroad and inside,” said Saleh, a dapper figure in a sweater and chinos, far from the image of the harried, bedraggled man on the run. “It’s a matter of traditional mentality that cannot deal with new facts and new generations and a new sense of life.”


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April 9th, 2012, 1:07 am


1236. omen said:

1226. mjabali 11:06 Revenge is not going to take you anywhere. All you have is talk and of course talk is cheap. Talk is easy dude, you are not even a Syrian and still encourage sectarian killings and street justice in Syria. But since you quote Ibn Taymiyah and have him be your guiding light I have to expect this sectarian tone from you.

you call it revenge. i call it preventing future atrocities.

[alert OMEN – do NOT personalize discussion points, please. This is your second warning.]

what a strange sensibility you have, mjabali. the regime goes on a killing spree but dare anyone protest and call for action to stop officials who are sanctioning war crimes – you consider that uncouth. your idea of civilized behavior is to allow regime slaughter to be a one way street.

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April 9th, 2012, 1:09 am


1237. omen said:

true, mjabali, i am not syrian, but i am a human being. and i know that people, no matter their nationality or ethnicity, should not be subjected to such acts of depravity.

how can it be that i am more upset about your fellow countrymen being slaughtered than you are?

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April 9th, 2012, 1:19 am


1238. omen said:

1224. Ghufran said: At one point, armed people need to go back to their families and towns if a peaceful solution is really being sought, what I see is the opposite, in summary, I am sick of how Syrians are treating their country, blaming the regime for this outcome, even if this charge has merit (and it does) is not good enough.

your solution is merely a bidding for time allowing for the regime to regroup and restrengthen.

for over a year the regime has shown itself as an entity that cannot be reasoned with. for over a year assad has had a chance to resolve this crisis. how many more years do you expect the opposition to wait for assad to come to his senses?

to quote a snc member:

We demand serious action. The Syrian regime will inevitably fall. Don’t prolong the catastrophe.

don’t prolong the catastrophe.

the quicker the opposition acts to overthrow assad, the sooner the country can work on rebuilding.

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April 9th, 2012, 2:47 am


1239. Mina said:

Here is the link to the article about the reform of the 17 infamous security services
(Thanks Mawal)

[ARROW See Mina’s earlier reference ]

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April 9th, 2012, 3:57 am


1240. Mina said:

According to this article, France is still negociating for the captured officers. All of them would have been binationals from North African countries, and they would have been found with NATO materials. So it’s NATO now or GLADIO? Since when can NATO carry undercover activities?

Also worth reading

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April 9th, 2012, 5:47 am


1241. Mawal95 said:

@ Khalid Tlass #1183: Thanks for the reply. I’ve now taken a look at a number of rebel videos out of Al-Rastan in recent days. I’m convinced there’s a armed rebel presence on the ground in the town. But I can only see it as smallish in size. I’m unconvinced they’re in control of the town. If I come across a telling video on this question over the next week, I’ll post it at SyriaComment. Once again, I appreciate that Youtube link from you.

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April 9th, 2012, 7:01 am


1242. zoo said:

The rebels take revenge of their failure by massacring innocent civilians in their own homes

Live cross: Syria rebels storm gov’t workers’ residential area

Syrian rebels have reportedly stormed a residential area for government employees in Adra, near the capital of Damascus. More than 60 people are feared dead, and over a hundred were kidnapped. Earlier, our correspondent Alaa Ebrahim in Damascus told us that government troops had begun operations to retake the residential compound.


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December 12th, 2013, 9:39 pm


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