“The US Won’t Use Force against Syria,” Chief of Staff Mike Mullen; Armed Gang Controversy

SYRIA CRACKDOWN – Good debate on France 24 TV between

  • Nadim KHOURY. Director of the Human Rights Watch Beirut office, Senior researcher on Syria and Lebanon (from Beirut);
  • Joshua LANDIS. Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma (from Norman, Oklahoma);
  • Patrick SEALE. Journalist and author of “The struggle for Arab independence”(from Fayence, France);
  • Majd EID. Syrian Activist.

Questions:

  • When does a crackdown become a massacre?
  • It seems that line has been crossed in the Syrian city of Hama – where rights groups say over 140 people have lost their lives since Sunday.
  • so what of diplomacy?

Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said, “There’s no indication whatsoever that the Americans, that we would get involved directly with respect to this.” “the U.S. won’t use force against Syria but it will work in other ways to push for reform.” (2 Aug 2011)

Clinton meets Syrian activists as U.S. calls for more sanctions mount

Mohammad Al Abdallah, Radwan Ziadeh, Marah Bukai

….In Congress, increasingly incensed lawmakers are demanding that the administration impose additional sanctions on Mr. Assad and his inner circle. The administration has already hit Mr. Assad and a handful of senior Syrian officials with penalties and has said it is looking at more, including targeting the country\’s oil and gas industries.

On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of three senators said they would introduce legislation to ramp up pressure on the regime by penalizing foreign companies that do business in Syria\’s energy sector, which is responsible for about a third of Syrian export revenues.

Syria seeks India’s support against ‘Western propaganda’

Russia against UN sanctions, outside pressure on Syria

Russia has been against UN sanctions against Syria because they would not settle the situation in this country, an official from the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

“We are not against everything; we categorically against all that does not work for a peaceful settlement. If there are unbalanced things like sanctions and pressure, such a set is really bad for attaining less blood and more democracy,” said Sergei Vershinin, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Middle East and North Africa Department.

Vershinin said that Russia has tried to avoid violence in Syria against both protesters and pro-government representatives. He noted that Syrian opposition should not dodge from the dialogue with the authorities about the country’s future.

“Reforms (in Syria) have been matured and they must be sped up,” he noted.

The diplomat stressed that the international community must learn from Libyan experience and not to adopt resolutions which later could be interpreted on a whim.

“(Such resolutions) lead not to the settlement but to the complicated situation on the ground,” the diplomat said, adding that military operation in Libya came into a deadend.

Vershinin also said that the frozen assets of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi abroad could be used only upon the UN Security Council’s permission. These assets should be evenly distributed to the east and the west of the country, the diplomat noted.

Libya Paralyses Security Council on Syria

…The Chinese and the Russians believe, one U.N. diplomat told IPS, that “Western countries are likely to misinterpret any resolution against Syria and then unleash military attacks on Damascus – as they did with Libya.”

Iraqi president urges Assad to reform -  02/08/2011
By Ma’ad Fayad

London, Asharq Al-Awsat- A source close to Adel Abdel Mahdi, a leading figure in the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council [IISC], which is led by Ammar al-Hakim, and resigned first deputy of the Iraqi president, disclosed details of the meeting that took place between Abdel Mahdi and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last week.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone from Baghdad, the source which spoke on the condition of anonymity said: “Abdel Mahdi met with Al-Assad in his capacity as a personal envoy of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. The visit was not an official one at all as Abdel Mahdi holds no official post.”

The source explained: “Abdel Mahdi conveyed a written message from President Talabani to President Al-Assad. In his letter, President Talabani urged Al-Assad to carry out genuine political reforms and stop using security and military methods against the Syrian people. He warned that continuation of the situation as it is will open the door to foreign intervention in Syria and make the situation in the region more critical.”

The source that is close to the leading IISC figure said: “The proposal to send a personal, unofficial envoy [to Syria] was the idea of the Iraqi president who did not want to send an official envoy as was preferred by the US Administration, which considered this move a positive step to ensure that the situation in Syria and the region will not develop further.”…

The source disclosed: “Since May, the US Administration has been trying to persuade some Iraqi officials who have influential relations with the Syrian president to talk to him and reach a formula to stop taking military measures against Syrian demonstrators.”

The source said: “Former US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad conducted shuttle trips to Arbil and Al-Sulaymaniyah to persuade President Talabani to visit Damascus and he discussed this move with close aides to President Talabani who has good relations with Al-Assad and can influence him.”

France rules out military intervention in Syria

PARIS, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) — The French authorities on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of military intervention in Syria, citing that the situation in Syria was different from Libya. “The situation in Libya and Syria are not similar. No option of a military nature is considered,” said Christine Fages, deputy spokeswoman of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during a regular press briefing. Full story

Jerusalem Post: Ban Ki-moon: Assad has ‘lost all sense of humanity’, 2011-08-02

Syrian President Bashar Assad has “lost all humanity,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday as the UN held talks over the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on protesters, AFP reported. “Since the beginning of this situation, I …

“World cannot stop Syria from going through these convulsions” 02 August, 2011

In Syria, ‘son of a whore’ gets tossed like trash

From Arwa Damon and Nada Husseini, CNN, August 2, 2011
One activist says “armed gang” responsible for killing soldiers and dumping them into Orontes River

Landis interview with Sonali Kolhatkar on the Uprising show, KPFK Pacifica radio.

New Syrian TV channel Nur al-Sham launches “to carry Islam’s tolerant message”

Within its 1730 gmt newscast, Syrian Satellite Channel reports on the launch of Nur al-Sham Satellite Channel’s test transmission, a new Islamic Syrian channel.

Syrian Television says that the channel will be “a great window into our Arabic culture, which Islam was the light in”. The channel notes that Nur al-Sham “will present Islam’s comprehensive and moderate message.”

The channel then carries a video report in which it says that Nur al-Sham has launched its satellite transmission “to carry Islam’s tolerant message.”

The channel then shows Minister of Information Adnan Mahmud saying: “Nur al-Sham will be concerned with the message of the heavens in its purest image, principals, and highest goals in a framework that brings all Muslims together.”

Syrian Television adds that Nur al-Sham, which chose to launch with the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, will present a series of religious programmes.

The channel then shows Awqaf Minister Muhammad Abd-al-Sattar saying: “The channel is a pulpit for all scholars and a door for all knowledge,” noting that the channel is “for all Muslims all over the world and for all Arabs.”

WSJ [Reg]: Syrian Raids Spur Resistance
2011-08-02 13:42:15.616 GMT

BEIRUT—Thousands of Syrians marched Monday evening in a show of solidarity with two opposition strongholds attacked by the government a day earlier, while security forces renewed their raids on the cities of Hama and Deir el-Zour. A feared scenario—that protests would intensify during the holy month of Ramadan, which began Monday, and that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime would scramble to regain full control of restive cities—appeared to be unfolding. Government security forces raided mosques in several cities Monday evening and used nail bombs to disperse crowds gathering to march in support of Hama and Deir el-Zour, said residents and activists…..

Analysis: Syria army keeps cohesion but risks overstretch, LONDON | Tue Aug 2, 2011
By William Maclean

(Reuters) – The Syrian army, a vital pillar of President Bashar al-Assad’s power, is showing little sign of the serious splits and defections the opposition seeks in its ranks, despite strains caused by his military repression of unrest.

But as tanks spearhead a crackdown in the city of Hama, Assad must wonder whether is most loyal and heavily-armed soldiers are sufficiently numerous to deploy in several places at once if the need arose.

The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, usually a time of family visits and gift-giving that can produce much larger night-time crowds than normal, could severely test Assad’s armed might if protests escalate and Syria’s crisis grows more bloody.

“We are seeing some defections but nothing near the critical mass that might indicate the beginnings of a serious mutiny by Sunni soldiers,” said Andrew Terrill, Research Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Army War College.

The army command is drawn from Assad’s minority Alawite sect, while majority Sunni Muslims make up the rank and file. Most of the protesters targeted by army action are also Sunnis.

Firas Abi Ali, an analyst at British-based Exclusive Analysis forecasting company, said he rated the cohesion of the Syrian military as “quite high” in terms of possible splits that could trigger a coup d’etat, but sheer numbers were a problem.

SHORTAGE OF LOYAL UNITS

“If they don’t have enough loyal units to take Hama, they don’t have enough loyal units to take on much bigger cities like Homs, Aleppo or Damascus,” he said.

“I don’t think they have enough of these units to crack down in a major way on multiple cities at the same time, at least not without seeing defections and without risking expanding the scope of the protests.”

LA Times [Reg]: SYRIA: Ramadan kicks off with tumult and economic hardship [Video] – latimes.com, 2011-08-02

The holy month of Ramadan, usually a time when streets are bustling with cheery shoppers as they make their purchases throughout the night until the last hours before dawn, has begun on a dreary note in various Syrian towns as shops remain closed …

Comments (168)


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151. Abughassan said:

I am now reading a draft for the new Syrian constitution, my initial thoughts:
1. There is no mentioning of albaath
2. The president is elected by the parliament not the people
3. Islam is not clearly stated as the official religion of the state and it does not make being a Muslim as a condition for being president.
4. Syria is called an Arab state,no mention of a multi ethnic state
Give me your thoughts and correct me if I misrepresented the document,as I said I am not done yet.

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August 3rd, 2011, 3:20 pm

 

152. Abughassan said:

Forgot to say that the document is one of many,no official draft has been presented to the government yet.

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August 3rd, 2011, 3:24 pm

 

153. Ya Mara Ghalba said:

A Russian journalist named Marianna Belenkaya recently made a short trip to Syria and spoke to various ordinary people. She reports with date 3 August 2011:

“This text is my impressions from the trip, and from meeting the people that the circumstances brought to me. Perhaps, had there been different people, my impressions would have been different.”

This Russian journalist arrived at Hama last week “before the army’s entry to the city”, and the army did not enter the city while she was there. She was there for around a couple of days, and spoke with some residents. For example:

There are those in Hama who support Assad in spite of the threat of losing their jobs or even lives. “I am for reforms, but along with President Assad,” says a young Christian lady with tears in her eyes. And there is so much despair and anguish in her eyes that I just feel like taking her away from Hama. She cannot leave the city by herself, as the public transport does not operate there anymore; what is more, she has to care for her parents, and she still has a job. Many Christians and Alawis have left the city. Entire districts have been deserted…. It is easy to get to Hama city by public transport, whereas traveling inside it is difficult….

More at http://rt.com/news/syria-hama-struggle-interview/

PS: This Russian journalist indicates that her contacts in Hama told her on the phone two days after she had left that the Syrian army had entered Hama. I must still doubt this for the reason I gave back at #128. If anyone can point to any reliable source of facts about this question one way or an other, please do.

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August 3rd, 2011, 3:24 pm

 

154. atassi said:

Urgent: Lebanon dissociates from Security Council presidential statement condemning Syria
3 August 2011
15:31
Xinhua News Agency
XNEWS
English
Copyright 2011. Xinhua News Agency. All rights reserved.

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) — Lebanon said here on Wednesday that it disassociated itself from the presidential statement just adopted by the Security Council on condemning the use of force against civilians in Syria.

01

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August 3rd, 2011, 3:47 pm

 

155. atassi said:

UN Council ‘condemns’ Syria crackdown
3 August 2011
Agence France Presse
AFPR
English
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011 All reproduction and presentation rights reserved.

The UN Security Council on Wednesday condemned the Syrian government’s deadly crackdown on protests and called for those responsible to be held “accountable.”

A council presidential statement agreed after weeks of often-acrimonious negotiations said the 15-nation body “condemns the widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities.”
=========================
Bashar To :!!! ~~~~~~~
Mamenheback

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August 3rd, 2011, 3:49 pm

 

156. atassi said:

UPDATE 2-White House toughens stance on Syria’s Assad
3 August 2011
13:05
Reuters News
LBA
English
(c) 2011 Reuters Limited

* Syria would be a better place without Assad – spokesman

* Washington weighing further steps against Assad regime

(Adds quotes, background on sanctions)

WASHINGTON, Aug 3 (Reuters) – The White House hardened its stance against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday, saying the United States viewed him as the cause of instability in the country.

“We do not want to see him remain in Syria for stability’s sake and, rather, we view him as the cause of instability in Syria,” Carney told a news briefing, toughening the U.S. position on the Syrian leader who has launched military assaults against unarmed protesters.

While repeating the Obama administration’s call for Assad to stop the violence, release thousands of detainees and make way for a democratic transition, Carney said the White House was also looking for more ways to squeeze Damascus.

“We will certainly continue to look at ways to take further steps to put pressure on the regime to end its violence. And we think, frankly, that it’s safe to say that Syria would be a better place without President Assad,” he said.

The United States has already imposed sanctions on Assad and members of his government, and is thought to be weighing new sanctions including ones on the Syrian oil and gas industry.
U.S. senators called on the White House on Tuesday to tighten its grip on Syria’s energy sector to help put muscle behind its demand that Assad halt his lethal crackdown.

At the United Nations, a draft Security Council statement that could be adopted on Wednesday would condemn human rights violations and use of force against civilians by Syrian authorities, council diplomats said. [ID:nN1E77211P]

The Syrian government blames armed terrorist groups for most killings in the 5-month-old revolt, saying more than 500 soldiers and security personnel have died.

Opposition and human rights groups say more than 1,600 civilians have been killed. [ID:nL6E7J31SC]

(Reporting by Laura MacInnis, Alister Bull and Andrew Quinn; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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August 3rd, 2011, 3:52 pm

 

157. Khalid Tlass said:

@Abughassan #151 –

1. Multi-party Parliamentary system, i.e. Westminsiter system is most suitable for Syria due to its demographic character.

2. If you guys have no problem declaring Syria as “Arab State” when 13% of Syrians are not Arabs,

what problem is there in declaring Islam as the State religion when 20% of Syrians are not Muslims ?

3. There should be a system of devolution of power to local self-government, i.e Municipal Councils and Village Councils. These local Councils should be elected by the people and they should have considerable funds and executive power to dispose of their local civic duties.

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August 3rd, 2011, 4:04 pm

 

158. OFF THE WALL said:

Nour?!

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August 3rd, 2011, 4:05 pm

 

159. NK said:

Abughassan

Will you please share the link to the new constitution draft. I’ll probably have more to say once I read the whole thing, but from what you wrote it just looks like a childish attempt to trick the people into believing actual reform is underway when in reality nothing will be changed.

Any constitution where the president is elected by majles el tarateer and not the people is not accepted, not by me or anyone I know anyways. Also any constitution that doesn’t limit the number of terms a president can serve won’t be accepted, no more presidents for life.

On a side note, take a look at what Syria-news chose to publish about the murder of Qanatri

قيادي في السوري القومي : تكفيريون اغتالوا قناطري ويسعون لإنشاء إمارة إسلامية في معرة النعمان

http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=135792

again with the Salafi/Takfiri emirate, do they really believe anyone is still buying their silly stories ?
all I can say is Allah yerhamo, and I hope they catch the real killers instead of wasting their time searching for Amir el Maraa the Zionist Salafi!.

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August 3rd, 2011, 4:09 pm

 

160. hsyrian said:

“Statement by the President of the Security Council (August 3, 2011)

“The Security Council expresses its grave concern at the deteriorating situation in Syria, and expresses profound regret at the death of many hundreds of people.

“The Security Council condemns the widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities.

“The Security Council calls for an immediate end to all violence and urges all sides to act with utmost restraint, and to refrain from reprisals, including attacks against state institutions.

“The Security Council calls on the Syrian authorities to fully respect human rights and to comply with their obligations under applicable international law. Those responsible for the violence should be held accountable.

“The Security Council notes the announced commitments by the Syrian authorities to reform, and regrets the lack of progress in implementation, and calls upon the Syrian Government to implement its commitments.

“The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Syria. It stresses that the only solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process, with the aim of effectively addressing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the population which will allow the full exercise of fundamental freedoms for its entire population, including that of expression and peaceful assembly.

“The Security Council calls on the Syrian authorities to alleviate the humanitarian situation in crisis areas by ceasing the use of force against affected towns, to allow expeditious and unhindered access for international humanitarian agencies and workers, and cooperate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“The Security Council requests the secretary general to update the Security Council on the situation in Syria within seven days.”

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August 3rd, 2011, 4:12 pm

 

161. hsyrian said:

Abdullah Kiroz ( SSNP ) said :

the assassination of Guenatra is part of the conspiracy ….
of the extremist terrorist groups that intend to establish an Islamic emirate in Ma’arrat Numan and this is incompatible with the existence of the party.

It is noteworthy that Ayman al-Zawahiri of al Qaeda leader in a video posted on the Internet
urged the Syrian demonstrators against the regime ..
is sincere in showing solidarity with them, and directed tribute to the cities of Dara and Ma’arrat Numan, Homs, Hama .. ”
“””””””

How many innocent peaceful people were killed by these terrorists between 1975 and 1982 ?

Disclaimers:
Die Geschichte wiederholt sich, zuerst als Tragödie, dann als Farce.

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August 3rd, 2011, 4:45 pm

 

162. Aliccie said:

@Amir in tel aviv #129#

NK # 139

Tara # 144

Sorry Amir, maybe there are exceptions, but all the tented women interviewed that I’ve seen, (in several countries) read their blogs, are definitely not in favour of democracy, they want a Sharia islamist state.

How can they want freedom, when they dress in such a way ? I don’t care if anyone calls me ‘prejudiced’ or whatever, even islamaphobic, I will never accept excuses. These women obviously are from various backgrounds, they might not have had any choice at all, being married young by their families. They might have chosen their ‘role’, but maybe not

In some countries they dress like this to avoid harassment from men. Because the society is so styled that men cannot have any access to women in a normal way. So they harass any women who isn’t veiled.

What I know (in France from the blogs of the woman herself, and medias), how these families live, their kids are abused, they have to learn the Coran by heart. This happens even in France, with several wives living with social benefits given to single women.

Their kids, (numerous of course), don’t have a normal life and are abused by the father, the wives are beaten by the father.. Some of the young ‘wives’ are sold to rich koweiti or other gulf state men. This is all known about in recent cases in French courts. So god knows what happens in countries that don’t have the French legal system. Not many rights for these women under sharia law.

However, if some idiotic, dysfunctional girl (often the case) decides to convert and ‘marry’ one of these corrupt men, that is their right. Also, of course if Arab or other women decide, that’s their right. But don’t expect me to applaud them.

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August 3rd, 2011, 5:03 pm

 

163. Tara said:

I am not disappointed with the UN security council under the current circumstances.  I think it is  a good first step.  It condemned the violation of human rights and the use of force against civilians.  It called for review in 7 days.  I hope more demonstrations will erupt all over Syria.  The only thing the regime knows and capable of doing is killing.  The regime is incapable of learning any lesson.

Few more days like July 31, 2011 then the security council will come together to establish an international tribunal for Assad and company at the Hauge.

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August 3rd, 2011, 5:09 pm

 

164. Aliccie said:

And to continue my previous post about niqabs and choice of women, please tell when a muslim country will allow a mini-skirt in public, or what is now the fashion with young girls, shorts… I detest hypocrisy.

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August 3rd, 2011, 5:13 pm

 

165. Abu Umar said:

“161. hsyrian said:

How many innocent peaceful people were killed by these terrorists between 1975 and 1982 ?”

How many innocent peaceful people in the tens of thousands were killed, jailed, disappeared, tortured by your criminal regime? How many male prisoners were raped with rubber hoses in the dungeons of your regime, taught to them by East German intelligence, so it can maintain its grip on power. Why do you menhebek lunatics expect those whose relatives were killed to be pacifists when your regime has unleashed its arsenal on the people.

Be careful what you wish for menhebek lunatics as your fake propaganda will come true and you can hear it from the horse’s mouth, the criminal Rifaat Eid:

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2008/0924/p06s03-wome.html/%28page%29/2

Although the feuding factions in Tripoli formally reconciled two weeks ago, Rifaat Eid, son of the leading Alawite politician in Lebanon, says that, as a member of a pro-Syrian minority in Lebanon, he fears the potential of the Salafis.

“The Salafis are like kittens when they are weak, but when they are strong they become like tigers,” he says.

Be afraid menhebek lunatics and shabeeha khanazeer.

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August 3rd, 2011, 5:20 pm

 

166. hsyrian said:

Libyan Supreme Tribal Council rejects NATO-imposed TNC, serves notice on NATO to quit Libya and never return!

“Al Qaeda will eat Mahmoud Jibril and the entire rebel leadership for Iftar during one of the Ramadan feasts during August. They are just waiting for the right opportunity to make a dramatic move and take control.”

According to one representative of the Libyan Supreme Tribal Council, “The tribes of Libya have until today not fully joined in repelling the NATO aggressors. As we do, we serve notice to NATO that we shall not desist until they have left our country and we will ensure that they never return.”

http://www.eurasiareview.com/end-game-for-benghazi-rebels-as-libyan-tribes-prepare-to-weigh-in-oped-02082011/

Disclaimers:
Die Geschichte wiederholt sich, zuerst als Tragödie, dann als Farce.

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August 3rd, 2011, 5:58 pm

 

167. Aliccie said:

@ Khalid Tlass

who said to Abughassan..

2. If you guys have no problem declaring Syria as “Arab State” when 13% of Syrians are not Arabs,

what problem is there in declaring Islam as the State religion when 20% of Syrians are not Muslims ?

Obviously every problem because what do you base your statistics on ? There is no freedom of medias, no opinion polls.

This sort of stuff reads like nothing but propaganda. I bet there are tons of atheists in Syria who can’t even put a cross on a bit of paper, there is not even an area for him/her to cross.

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August 3rd, 2011, 6:18 pm

 

168. Aliccie said:

166. hsyrian said

look at the one comment, ‘why post such rubbish’ ?

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August 3rd, 2011, 6:35 pm

 

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