Syrian Kurds outraged over mutilation of female fighter by Turkish backed ‘rebels’

Barin Kobani Kurdish woman


Turkish-backed rebels accused of filming mistreatment of Women’s Protection Units member

Syrian Kurds have accused Turkish-backed rebels of mutilating then filming the body of one of their female fighters after a video emerged of her corpse.

Turkey and allied Syrian rebels have pressed an offensive since 20 January against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria, whose Kurdish fighters Ankara views as terrorists.

A Kurdish official identified the woman as Barin Kobani, who took part in a US-backed campaign to drive the Islamic State jihadist group from the northern town of Kobani.

The Kurds blamed the “terrorist allies of the enemy Turkish state” for mutilating the body of Kobani, who was a member of the all-female Kurdish Women’s Protection Units.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain, said it received the video from a Syrian rebel fighting with Turkish forces in the Afrin offensive.

The rebel told the group the footage was filmed on Tuesday after rebels found the young woman’s corpse in the village of Qurna near the Turkish border in the north of the enclave. In the footage, a dozen men, some armed, gather around the badly mutilated body of a woman lying on the ground.

The Kurdish community reacted with outrage, and social media users shared a portrait of Kobani smiling next to another shot of her brutalised body.

“Barin did not surrender. She fought to the death,” said Amad Kandal, an official with the Women’s Protection Units, vowing to avenge her comrade’s brutal murder. “This kind of behaviour will only serve to reinforce our determination to resist until victory.”

Male and female YPG fighters have taken part in the battle by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to expel Isis from large parts of Syria.

An SDF spokesman, Mustefa Bali, said the video was reason to continue fighting back against Turkey and its allies. “Imagine the savagery of these invaders with the bodies of our daughters. How would they behave if they took control of our neighbourhoods?” he wrote on Facebook. “All this hatred and barbarity leaves us with a single option: to continue the resistance.”

An Afrin resident Hussein Cheikho, 65, said he was “deeply pained” when he saw pictures of Kobani’s mutilated body but said her death would not be in vain. “The death of a young man or a young woman will not weaken us. Out strength will be bolstered every day,” he said.

The Syrian National Council, the main opposition body in exile, condemned the “criminal acts” and called for “an immediate investigation to punish those responsible.

Agence France-Presse in Afrin

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‘Double standards’: Kurds slam US for not fighting ‘Turkish occupation’ of Afrin (VIDEO)

'Double standards': Kurds slam US for not fighting 'Turkish occupation' of Afrin (VIDEO)

“With the coalition, especially the US forces, we saw some double standards,” a Kurdish military officer by the name of Khalil told RT’s Ruptly agency. “What we demand from the US, in particular, is to fulfil the promises to the [US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces] – that is to protect the liberated areas, including Afrin, which, as we can see, has been fighting heroically and fiercely for seven days against Turkish occupation…”

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The US did not step in when Turkey launched its ‘Operation Olive Branch’ in Afrin, which Ankara says is aimed at battling terrorists in the region. Instead, President Donald Trump “relayed concerns that escalating violence [in Afrin] risks undercutting [sic] our shared goals in Syria,” a White House spokesperson said. “He urged Turkey to exercise caution and to avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that Manbij will be the next target of the operation, with the leader vowing to “cleanse” the city of “terrorists.” All eyes are currently on the US to see whether troops will become involved there, despite having done nothing in Afrin.

Up to 2,000 American soldiers are stationed in Manbij, after being deployed there in March to prevent Turkish and US-backed rebels from fighting each other. They have also carried out training and advising missions in the city.

The US-led coalition worked together with Kurdish fighters to liberate Manbij from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). Because of this, Manbij Military Council Spokesperson Sharvan Darwish expressed hope and optimism that the US won’t back away from the city now.

“[The US-led coalition] have been supervising the training and development of the Manbij Military Council until now. The level of coordination is going on normally, and it is even better now, to be honest. There are continuous patrols either on the frontline or in the air. There is nothing until now that suggests they will draw back this coordination or work…” Darwish said.

Turkey launched ‘Operation Olive Branch’ on January 20. Ankara intends to make Manbij its next stop before continuing further east towards the Iraqi border.

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US promises Turkey to stop arming Syrian Kurds – media

Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster held a phone call on Friday evening, Anadolu news agency said. McMaster confirmed that Washington would no longer provide weapons to fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD). 

Later on Saturday Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Washington should immediately withdraw from northern Syria’s Manbij region, located some 100 km from Afrin. Speaking to reporters, the top official said that the US should take steps to end its support of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.

READ MORE: ‘Operation Olive Branch’: Key points of Turkish military campaign against Syrian Kurds

This is not the first time the US has promised to stop supporting Kurdish militias in Syria with arms: In December 2017, US Defense Secretary James Mattis made a statement to similar effect. Asked if the US indeed intends to halt its arming of the Kurdish forces in Syria, Mattis said, “Yes.” However, at that time Washington did not release any clear statement of the White House’s position on that matter.

The military operation launched by Turkey in and around Afrin follows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s promise to “strangle” the new Border Security Force (BSF) in Syria. Earlier in January the US-led coalition announced that it would help create the 30,000-strong BSF, half of which would be comprised of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance.

Turkey was angered by the fact that the major force behind the SDF is the Kurdish People’s Protection units (YPG), linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which is designated as terrorist by Turkey.

Shortly after the operation in Afrin was launched, Erdogan turned on Ankara’s allies, insinuating that the US in particular was providing massive military support to Kurdish YPG in Syria. “Now, apart from 5,000 trucks, there are weapons and ammunition from around 2,000 planes.” the Turkish leader said.

During the week-long operation in northern Syria, Turkey has repeatedly urged the US to stop arming Kurdish militias. “Those who support the terrorist organization will become a target in this battle,” Turkish deputy prime minister Bekir Bozdag said on Thursday. “The United States needs to review its soldiers and elements giving support to terrorists on the ground in a way to avoid a confrontation with Turkey.”

The US and Turkey have long argued over the status and future of Syria’s Kurds. Ankara has repeatedly slammed Washington for delivering military supplies to Kurds in Syria. According to a Hurriyet Daily News report from December 2017, US President Donald Trump approved arming the Syrian Kurds, including with anti-tank, anti-aircraft and mortar weapons, due to be delivered in 2018. The US authorities didn’t comment on the report.

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Turkey Begins Air and Ground Operations Against YPG Kurds

Turkey Begins Air and Ground Operations Against Syrian YPG Kurds

by Stephen Lendman ( – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Turkish cross-border shelling of Kurdish fighter positions in Afrin began two days ago.

On Saturday, things escalated, Erdogan saying military operations “actively beg(an)” in Afrin, adding:

“(P)romises made to us over Manbij were not kept. So nobody can object if we do what is necessary” – referring to Washington’s assurance that YPG fighters would move out of Afrin.

On January 18 and 19, Turkey’s military chief General Hulusi Akar and intelligence head Hakan Fidan met with Russian chief of staff General Valery Gerasimov in Moscow.

Russia has military forces in Afrin. On Friday, Lavrov said they’re not leaving ahead of planned Turkish military operations in the area.

Remaining leaves them in harm’s way. Russia controls Syrian airspace. Gerasimov must have agreed not to interfere with Turkey’s air operations. Otherwise its warplanes would risk being shot down.

On Saturday, Turkey announced the start of Operation Olive Branch, its cross-border aggression belying the offensive’s name.

On Saturday, AMN news reported Turkish warplanes attacking Kurdish YPG positions in Afrin, targeting areas it controls, including its Al-Malikiyah headquarters, reportedly destroyed.

“Today’s airstrikes by the Turkish Air Force marks the first time this year that Ankara has launched an aerial attack over this Kurdish enclave in northern Syria,” AMN explained.

Southfront reported Turkish warplanes attacking YPG positions in Shero, Shra, Jandarseh and Afrin, along with destroying targets in Tall Rifat and Menagh.

Turkish ground operations could follow any time, its offensive upping the stakes in confrontation with Russia, Syria and Washington.

US-supported Kurdish fighters vowed to defend themselves, armed with heavy weapons supplied by Washington.

On Saturday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it’s monitoring things in northern Syria closely, taking steps to protect its forces in Afrin, a statement saying:

“According to the incoming reports, on January 20, Turkey started using the units of its armed forces near Afrin in northwestern Syria.” 

“The Turkish General Staff has announced that the Turkish military shelled the positions of the Syrian Kurds in response to provocative shelling by militants of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party.” 

“Moscow has received this information with concern. We are closely monitoring the development of the situation.”

Moscow supports Syria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and right of its people to choose their leadership, free from foreign interference – affirmed by Security Council resolutions Washington breached repeatedly.

Instead of winding down years of conflict, US and Turkish belligerence escalated it.

Both countries seek a permanent presence in Syria – flagrant violation of international law.

How Russia intends dealing with what’s ongoing remains unclear – other than continuing to go all-out for diplomatic conflict resolution.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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Turkish field op against Afrin Kurds ‘de facto underway’ – Erdogan

“The Afrin operation has de facto been started on the ground,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in the city of Kutahya, as cited by AFP.

“This will be followed by Manbij,” he added, referring to a Kurdish-controlled town in northern Syria, about 30 kilometers west of the Euphrates.

Both Afrin and Manbij are controlled by the YPG Syrian Kurdish militia.

“The promises made to us over Manbij were not kept. So nobody can object if we do what is necessary,” Erdogan said, referring to previous US assurances that the YPG would move out of Afrin.

“Later we will step-by-step clear our country up to the Iraqi border from this terror filth that is trying to besiege our country,” he concluded.

The army said it shelled Kurdish positions in Syria’s Afrin region on Friday and Saturday, destroying shelters and hideouts used by militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

In a written statement, the Turkish General Staff said the army hit the terrorist organization’s shelters “within the scope of legitimate self-defense,” as cited by Turkish news agency Anadolu.

According to Ankara, Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its affiliate People’s Protection Units (YPG) are allegedly linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey.

Turkey’s Defense Minister said on Friday that Ankara has no option but to carry out a military operation in the north-western Syrian enclave of Afrin (a Kurdish-held area of Syria.) The minister added that the operation has actually ‘de facto started’ with cross-border shelling.

According to Anadolu, at least ten howitzer shells were fired on targets in Syria by Turkish artillery deployed in the Kirikhan and Hassa districts of Hatay province. The Turkish military said they are preventing the creation of a “terror corridor” connecting Syrian Kurdish enclaves along the border. 

RIA Novosti cited an YPG source as saying on Friday that “more than 70 artillery rockets” coming from the Turkish side had landed in the Afrin area.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated on Monday that “the operation [in Afrin] may start at any time” adding that “operations into other regions will come after.”

Turkey’s allies should think twice before they consider helping what he called terrorists in Syria, Erdogan said.

“We won’t be responsible for the consequences,” the Turkish leader warned.

Over the past week, tanks and self-propelled howitzers have been arriving in the border areas inside Turkey, local media reported. Notably, the army has deployed signal jammers, indicating that the intervention might also include electronic warfare. 

The looming military op in Afrin is a follow-up to Turkey’s seven-month Euphrates Shield Operation that was meant to target Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and drive Kurdish forces out of their enclaves in northern Syria.

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‘Kurds are pawns in US strategic games’

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) say they could join the government army if they’re allowed to form a federal state in the north of the country.

The statement came after Turkey claimed the US president had promised to stop arming Kurdish forces.

However, there’s apparently no clear position from the White House on the matter. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the US is ready to “stop providing military equipment to certain groups” in Syria during a briefing on Monday.

Nicolas J. S. Davies, author, and political analyst, says Washington’s pronouncements on the issue of arming the Kurds shouldn’t be taken at face value.

“[The White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee] could be referring to Al-Qaeda linked armed groups in Idlib province in the northwest who have received thousands of tons of weapons over the years – mostly paid for by the Saudis but facilitated by the CIA to get all those weapons delivered mostly from the Balkans and South-Eastern Europe,” Davies said.

“If the White House isn’t letting on who it is they are talking about, somebody should ask them,” he continued.

“Obviously, [Trump] is under pressure from Turkey to do that and the Turks actually were the ones who said that he had told them that he was going to stop arming the Kurds. I think we have to wait and see exactly what this means,” he added.

In Davies’ view, “we should be very conscious that most of the arming of rebel groups in Syria by the US or its allies was done covertly. So, whatever they are saying publicly is not necessarily the whole story.”

He said that there are “a lot of holes” in statements both from the military and from the White House “that are big enough to drive ships, planes and trucks loaded with weapons through.”

“The US has a long history of supporting different Kurdish factions when it suits them and then pulling the plug when it no longer fits the US interest,” Davies pointed out.

“This goes all the way to the 1970s when the Iraqi government was fighting Kurdish rebels in Iraq and the US and Iran – which was still ruled by the Shah at that point – were supporting the Iraqi rebels. But then at a certain point in March 1975, Iran cut off the support for the Iraqi Kurdish rebels. And all the US relief and support going to the Kurdish refugees that had been coming through Iran just dried up overnight. And when the US House Intelligence Committee asked Henry Kissinger about this, he very famously told them that ‘covert action should not be confused with missionary work.’ In other words, this was not about helping these Kurdish refugees, it was about using them as pawns in the US policy to destabilize Iraq,” he said.

He went on to recall that later when Saddam Hussein came to power, the situation was reversed.

“The US supported him, and by then, at the same time, there was a revolution in Iran and Iran stopped being a US ally. But the Kurds have been pawns in these strategic games that the US have been involved in for decades in that part of the world,” he told RT.

Daoud Khairallah, professor of International law at Georgetown University, Washington says he would not be surprised at all if the US stopped supporting the Kurds.

“The US realizes that its support of the Kurds has antagonized and alienated Turkey – its tradition ally. The US realizes that it doesn’t stand on solid legal grounds in Syria. If the fighting is to go on with the Kurds as a means for whatever reasons, the Kurds would not stand a chance either to become independent – because everything around them, the entire environment is hostile to them – and the US would be in a very difficult position supporting only trouble in Syria,” he told RT.

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The Barzanis’ Crimes against Non Kurds

Sheikh Hatem Al-Taei, Mayor of Kirkuk, has published a preliminary list of 7 000 inhabitants that had been kidnapped and detained by the Barzanis’ Secret Police, Assayish, during the Kurdish occupation of the district.

If the prisoners’ families were to protest, then these prisoners would be sure to disappear.

Massoud Barzani’s PDK had annexed the Arab region of Kirkuk and had hoped to integrate it into a pseudo-Kurdistan under Israeli protection. The region has just been liberated by the Iraqi army. The occupation troops left without doing battle and more than 100 000 Kurdish colonels fled.

The victims were non-Kurdish inhabitants, principally Arabs, that might be Sunni or Christian but also even Turkoman.

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Kurds, still hoping for independence, fight on after losing Kirkuk

ERBIL —  In the ongoing crisis over independence for the Kurds of Iraq, the Kurdish Regional Government is accusing the United States of helping terrorists by supplying military support for Iraqi government forces in the fight for Kirkuk province.

In a statement sent to Yahoo News, the Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga, charged that the Iraqi Shia militias, known as the Hashd al Shaabi, “launched a large-scale attack on the peshmerga forces using American weapons that have been supplied to the Iraqi army” earlier this month. The attack was carried out “with the participation of Iranian artillery,” the statement charged.

The Kurdish prime minister’s office also provided a photo of one of the Iraqi commanders, identified as “deputy head of the Popular mobilization forces  [PMU] Hashd al Shaabi – Abu Mahdi Muhandis.” Muhandis was described as a “listed terrorist by [the] U.S.”

Muhandis was indeed considered to be a terrorist by the U.S. after a series of bombings in Kuwait in the 1980s. He was also known to work for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Hezbollah militia under Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Deputy head of the Popular mobilization forces [PMU] Hashd al Shabbi, Abu Mahdi Muhandis left, with other Hashd al Shabbi commanders. (Courtesy of the Kurdish authorities)Deputy head of the Popular mobilization forces [PMU] Hashd al Shabbi, Abu Mahdi Muhandis left, with other Hashd al Shabbi commanders. (Courtesy of the Kurdish authorities)

The Iraqi authorities, in recent days, took full control of oil-rich Kirkuk after peshmerga forces surrendered their positions.

The conflict was ignited when the Kurds, an ethnic group occupying a semiautonomous region in the northern part of Iraq, voted to secede and form an independent Kurdistan, though the vote itself was nonbinding.

According to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, the ease with which the Iraqi military reclaimed Kirkuk demonstrated national unity, and Kurdish independence was “a thing of the past.” While the referendum vote was not binding, it was opposed by every country except Israel.

Slideshow: Iraq orders 24-hour truce in standoff with Kurds over Kirkuk takeover by Iraqi forces >>>

The Iraqi Media War Cell, the military’s media team, told Yahoo News the Kurdish government is “accused of treason.” Iraqi courts have issued arrest warrants for the Kurdish vice president and other Kurdish leaders. The media team also said citizens were celebrating the Iraqi military’s control and emphasized that soldiers would not discriminate against any ethnic group, including Kurds, Turkmen, Christians or Arabs.

But the Kurdish authorities accuse the Iraqi government of allowing the Iranian-funded Shia militias to lead an ethnically divisive campaign against the Kurdish people.

According to the Kurdish regional Security Council, Muhandis launched “unprovoked attacks against the people of the Kurdish region” using heavy weapons.

Iraq is one of few countries in the Middle East region that maintain a relationship with both Tehran and Washington. But the U.S. has opposed the growing influence of Iranian Shia militias in Iraq and discouraged their involvement in the fight against the Islamic State.

The U.S. does supply the Iraqi military with foreign military funding amounting to more than $250 million a year in weapons and training. But the American-led coalition that has been fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq said it is “monitoring movements of military vehicles and personnel in the vicinity of Kirkuk. These movements of military vehicles, so far, have been coordinated movements, not attacks. Coalition forces and advisers are not supporting Government of Iraq or Kurdistan Regional Government activities near Kirkuk, but are aware of reports of a limited exchange of fire. The Coalition strongly urges all sides to avoid escalatory actions.” U.S. forces also said their sole mission is focused on defeating ISIS.

In a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, four members of Congress have noted the Kurds’ alarming warnings over the Shia militias and asked the State Department to intervene and “broker an immediate ceasing of offensive hostilities” and to “seek a long term diplomatic solution.” The representatives were Ralph Abraham, R-La., Jared Polis, D-Colo., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis.

During Tillerson’s trip to the Middle East, he said the U.S. is “concerned and a bit sad,” adding, “We have friends in Baghdad and friends in Irbil, and we encourage all parties to enter into discussion.”

Tillerson went on to raise questions about Iran’s influence over Iraq, but Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi has rejected Tillerson’s concerns.

The U.S. sided with the Iraqi government against holding the referendum and has not committed to helping the Kurdish region gain independence. But it has also supplied the Kurdish peshmerga with weapons, equipment and training in the fight against ISIS.

The Kurdish authorities have held off declaring independence since the referendum by freezing the results. But Abadi says the move does not go far enough: “We won’t accept anything but its cancellation and the respect of the Constitution.”

The Kurdish officials have also accused the militias of torturing Kurdish citizens and sent Yahoo News video clips that often included screams in the background. Yahoo News could not independently verify the content of the videos.

Kurdish protesters have also taken to the streets in opposition to the popular mobilization forces run by Muhandis, and aid organizations are concerned about civilians caught in the middle of clashes between the Kurdish and Iraqi government forces. At least 30,000 Kurds have been displaced, according to Amnesty International.

Human Rights Watch stated, “Iraqi and Kurdish forces need to resolve the current crisis in ways that fully respect human rights and avoid harming civilians or their property,” and they have recommended the Iraqi authorities investigate allegations of looting and destruction of homes.

The Iraqi prime minister has continued to defend his position and is working on strengthening ties with both Turkey and Iran. But Kurdish authorities are concerned Iraqi officials have forfeited an opportunity to negotiate on the future of the province and arrive at a peaceful solution, choosing instead a military solution.


Ash Gallagher is a journalist covering the Mideast for Yahoo News.


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The Iraqi Kurds are turning their backs on the Barzani

The vote in the independence referendum for an Iraqi Kurdistan of 25 September 2017 was a sham – for the vote was rigged. This fact is now boomeranging back to those who initiated it: the Barzani family and the Taliban family.

During the referendum campaign, the Kurdish regional government of Iraq declared that 80 countries in the world — including the United States and France — were in support of establishing a new State. This argument appeared decisive for a number of voters.

The General of the Guardian of the Iranian Revolution, Qasem Soleimani, alerted the Barzanis at the last minute. The arrival of 200,000 Israelis and the stationing of missiles in the Iraqi Kurdistan can only open a new war. But the Barzani family did not wanted to take on board any of this information.

Taking the initiative, the Iraqi national troops then liberated the region of Kirkouk and its oil fields from Kurdish occupation, on 16 October. More than 100 000 Kurds, had installed themselves there and coordinated their activities with Daesh and had expelled the indigenous population. In two days they fled. Yet the international community has failed to react.

The Iraqi national government has just returned to the Arabs, Christians and Muslims territories that had been stolen from them. It has also avoided Turkey intervening and occupying the country.

The Western media which has not stopped supporting the Barzani dictatorship, have said nothing about:

- the political assassinations of those who oppose the Barzanis;

- the impossibility of holding elections but the possibility of organizing a referendum;

- their agreement with Israel;

- their agreement with Daesh;

- their responsibility in the genocide of the Kurdish Yezidis; and

- the annexation of 80% of their territory within just a few years.

And no medial spotlight is shone on the ethnic cleansing which follows.

The Iraqi Kurds realize, but a bit too late, that the Barzani and Taliban have taken them for a ride. No country apart from Israel can admit the creation of another state established through annexation and ethnic cleansing.

Massoud Barzani, who is the de facto but not the de jure President of the Iraqi Kurdistan, will no longer be able to artificially extend his mandate for much longer. Without waiting, the Taliban have acted sensibly and have distanced themselves from Erbil’s illegitimate power.

Bagdad has just issued an arrest warrant for Kosrat Rasul, the de facto but not de jure Vice President of the Iraqi Kurdistan, for his role and for his speech when Kirkouk was set free.

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