Operation Moshtarak Thread: Afghan flag hoisted over Marjah

Discussion in 'Afghanistan Defence Forum' started by fawwaxs, Feb 8, 2010.

  1. fawwaxs

    fawwaxs SENIOR MEMBER

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    By Anwar Iqbal
    Monday, 08 Feb, 2010

    WASHINGTON: US and Nato forces are set to launch in southern Afghanistan this week a major offensive being described as the biggest assault of its kind since Vietnam four decades ago.

    “Our basic strategy is, is to reverse the momentum of the Taliban; to deny them control of population centres and production centres,” said US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

    A strike force of 15,000 US, British and Afghan troops will participate in this offensive in the Helmand province, aided by the biggest air assault since the first Gulf War of 1991.

    US officials, while reluctant to endorse the media’s ‘exaggeration’, did acknowledge that it would be the largest offensive in the eight-year Afghan war.

    The offensive, which includes a series of raids into the most dangerous areas of central Helmand, may begin within a week, although US and Nato officials are refusing to give a date.

    “That’s as specific as I’d want to be. But it’s going to be relatively soon,” says Gen Stanley McChrystal, who commands US and Nato forces in Afghanistan.

    A transcript released by the Pentagon this weekend, also quoted Secretary Gates as saying that they want to degrade the militants’ “capabilities to the point where a larger and better-trained Afghan national security force can manage the Taliban threat on a domestic basis and so that the security presence (of the international forces) can begin to diminish”.

    In Britain, military officials have warned the public to “steel itself” for large numbers of casualties in this offensive named ‘Operation Moshtarak’.

    Meanwhile, media reports from Afghanistan say that hundreds of civilians have begun fleeing the area before the anticipated Nato offensive.

    Nato helicopters have dropped leaflets in and around Marja, warning people of the impending assault.

    “We’re trying to signal to the Afghan people that we are expanding security where they live. We are trying also to signal to the insurgents, the Taliban primarily in this area and the narco-traffickers, that it’s about to change,” said Gen McChrystal.

    “If they want to fight, then obviously that will have to be an outcome. But if they don’t want to fight, that’s fine too. If they want to reintegrate into the government … we’re not interested in how many Taliban we kill.”
     
  2. pkd

    pkd FULL MEMBER

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    US Army closes in on targeted southern Afghan town

    NEAR LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan – U.S. Army soldiers launched a preliminary operation Tuesday in support of a planned U.S.-Afghan attack on the largest Taliban-controlled town in southern Afghanistan.

    NATO and Afghan officials, meanwhile, urged militants holding Marjah, where an offensive is expected, to lay down their arms and warned civilians there to "keep your heads down."

    About 400 U.S. troops from the 5th Stryker Brigade as well as 250 Afghan soldiers and their 30 Canadian trainers moved into positions northeast of the town.

    No casualties were reported. Large plumes of smoke could be seen in the area, and reporters traveling with the U.S. unit could hear the distant rattle of 50-caliber machine gun fire and detonations from MK-19s, which fire 40 millimeter grenades from Stryker vehicles.

    U.S. officials have not said when the main attack on the town of some 80,000 people will take place but have nonetheless heavily publicized plans to attack, causing hundreds of people to flee the opium-producing center in advance of the fighting.

    On Tuesday, however, Taliban militants prevented townspeople from leaving Marjah, as families huddled inside their homes, witnesses said.

    The offensive will be the first major one since President Barack Obama announced he was sending 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan.

    Villager Mohammad Hakim gambled that he could wait until the last minute because he was worried about abandoning his cotton fields.

    He finally tried to move his wife, nine sons, four daughters and grandchildren out of Marjah earlier Tuesday but said militants told him to return home because they had mined the surrounding roads.

    "All of the people are very scared," he said in a telephone interview. "Our village is like a ghost town. The people are staying in their homes."

    NATO and Afghan officials have insisted their primary goal is to gain public confidence and promised to follow the military action with projects aimed at restoring government control and services in the area.

    "The success of the operation will not be in the military phase," NATO's civilian chief in Afghanistan, former British Ambassador Mark Sedwill, said Tuesday.

    "It will be over the next weeks and months as the people ... feel the benefits of better governance, of economic opportunities and of operating under the legitimate authorities of Afghanistan," he told reporters in a briefing at NATO headquarters in Kabul.

    International officials believe the insurgency has been able to capitalize on widespread public anger over President Hamid Karzai's corruption-ridden government and failure to provide services after more than eight years of war.

    Two NATO service members were killed Tuesday in separate attacks, including an American who died in a bombing in the south.

    A French soldier also was killed during a gunfight after insurgents attacked an Afghan army convoy being escorted by French troops in the eastern Kapisa province, according to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office.

    The governor of Helmand province said it was unusual but necessary to broadcast the plans for the offensive "to make the people aware that we are coming, that the purpose of this is to work for them, not just to conduct a military operation."

    Authorities have not advised Marjah residents to leave but have warned them to stay inside and avoid road travel once the operation begins.

    Gov. Gulab Mangal said a commission was ready to handle the flow of refugees and any other fallout from the military action.

    Mangal said at least 164 families had left Marjah. Afghan families have an average of six members, according to private relief groups.

    "The commission is fully prepared. We have got tents. We've got food. We've got everything in place," he said at the joint press conference with Sedwill, declining to give specific numbers.

    Sedwill said the main question was whether Taliban militants in the area could be persuaded to join a government-promoted reintegration process.

    "The message to them is accept it," he said. "The message to the people of the area is of course keep your heads down, stay inside when the operation is going ahead."

    Mangal also said the government had received preliminary indications that some local Taliban were ready to renounce al-Qaida and join the government's reintegration process.

    "I'm confident that there are a number of Taliban members who will reconcile with us and who will be under the sovereignty of the Afghan government," he said.

    Interior Minister Hanif Atmar also unveiled a pilot model policing program in Kandahar that will get help from American and Canadian police trainers.

    With Kandahar a key stronghold for the Taliban, he said enemy infiltration and overall corruption are among his top concerns.

    "We're looking at different measures to counter these two problems," he said.

    The program will focus on training, strengthening and equipping Afghan police to work within their local communities. If successful, he said the ministry has plans to expand the program to other big cities and provinces in Afghanistan over the next five years.

    Canadian Ambassador William Crosbie called the policing strategy "a priority focus for Canada because credible, professional Afghan police is key to fostering security."

    A U.S. Predator drone also crashed upon takeoff in eastern Afghanistan Tuesday, but the Air Force said it was not caused by hostile fire and no casualties or damage were reported.

    ___

    Gamel reported from Kabul. Associated Press writers Noor Khan in Kandahar and Amir Shah in Kabul also contributed to this report.
    US Army closes in on targeted southern Afghan town - Yahoo! News
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas PROFESSIONAL

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    Another example for all you good Taliban lovers. Using The villagers as human shields. Perhaps the Taliban view them as ISAF sympathizers?
     
  4. AZADPAKISTAN2009

    AZADPAKISTAN2009 ELITE MEMBER

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    interesting ...80,000 is alot of civilians
     
  5. MZUBAIR

    MZUBAIR SENIOR MEMBER

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    98243ede55bad496ab532bfe1c89855f.jpg
    f2b1b51c09f7da91a3cb0b18ed8b5cab.gif

    Look at High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles on trucks
     
  6. no_name

    no_name ELITE MEMBER

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    I don't think it's a good idea to publicise every operation yet to be undertaken.

    Secrecy and surprise is important.
     
  7. S-2

    S-2 PROFESSIONAL

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    The largest operation of the war involving up to 15,000 U.S. Marines, Army and Navy SEALs, British Army and SAS, Canadian advisors, Afghan National Army units and others (to include DEA) has commenced.

    There's an interesting series of blogs that will be following the battle from the Institute For The Study Of War. I encourage those having an interest to review the first installment.

    It's a fresh and well-footnoted backgrounder to the A.O. as well as preliminary operations conducted by British and American forces to prepare the battlefield. It highlights some of the anticipated difficulties associated with engineering operations as well as internally-displaced persons (IDPs).

    I'd also encourage those interested to match the graphics maps against a GOOGLE-EARTH satelliate scan. The terrain has been well-mapped by Google-Earth and you can see the roads (and cars btw), canals, crossings, and structures through the area-

    Operation Moshtarak Backgrounder

    Thanks.:usflag:
     
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  8. pkd

    pkd FULL MEMBER

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    All discussions related to Operation Moshtarak here.
     
  9. pkd

    pkd FULL MEMBER

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    Assault on Taliban in Helmand



    US led NATO troops launched an offensive today against the Taliban's last big stronghold in Afghanistan's Helmand province, a test of President Barack Obama's troop surge strategy. Wave after wave of helicopters landed across central Helmand marking the start of the major offensive that aims to finally defeat the insurgency. Two hours before dawn the first Chinooks swept low over the Taliban district capital of Showal disgorging a force of British, Afghan and French troops signalling “D-Day”, the start of Operation Moshtarak.
    The aircraft swept into landing zone Pegasus at 4am local time with three Chinooks packed with British, Afghan and French soldiers. The landings marked the start of the offensive involving 15,000 American, British and Afghan troops in the Marjah and Nad-e-Ali areas.
    Hours before midnight the Afghan leader President Hamid Karzai gave his personal approval for the operation to go ahead. It had been delayed for 24 hours as Afghan officials entered last minute negotiations to broker a deal with power-brokers in the area to get the Taliban to lay down their arms.
    Brigadier James Cowan, the commander of 11 Light Brigade, in an eve of battle speech told his men they were embarking on an operation that “will clear the Taliban from its safe havens in central Helmand”.
    “Where we go, we will stay. Where we stay, we will build,” he told to the troops in Camp Bastion.
    “The next few days will not be without danger.
    “Hold your fire if there is risk to the innocent, even if this puts you in greater danger. “For those who will not shake our hand they will find it closed into a fist. They will be defeated.
    “I wish you Godspeed and the best of luck.”
    Landing in the cold, dark night into a ploughed field the soldiers of the 1st Bn The Royal Welsh slogged their way through clinging mud to assault the compounds.
    The men picked their way cautiously across the ground constantly checking for the ever-present threat of hidden bombs. Accompanied by Afghan commandos they seized several compounds. A few minutes after the initial wave other troops from A Company flew into landing zone Varsity to surround another village.
    The airborne attack marked the biggest air assault since the first Gulf War in 1991.
    Hours before the landings a special forces raid targeted Taliban redoubts that overlooked helicopter landing sites.
    The fleet of helicopters included 11 Chinooks, four American Blackhawks, eight Apache attack helicopters, three Merlin and four Griffin helicopter gunships.
    In a pre-operational briefing troops were told that if one aircraft went down it would not mean “mission abort” but that they should be prepared to “quickly rejig” the planning.
    British, American and Afghan ground forces also crossed over the Taliban front line pushing the enemy back from areas that they have held for years. The operation dwarfs the Panther’s Claw assault in the Babaji area last summer in which 10 British soldiers were killed.
    Other troops from the Royal Welsh were landed across the area a third the size of the Isle of Wight, some by Canadian Chinooks guarded by Griffin helicopter gunships.
    Within two hours the entire assault force was set down across six different landing zones in the northern Nad-e-Ali area referred to as the Cat Triangle that contains a population of 40,000.
    It is estimated the enemy strength, which at its highest point reach 300 fighters, may have shrunk to less than 100 with a number melting away from the area before the attack began.
    The northern Nad-a-Ali sector, which is being secured by the Royal Welsh battle group, has been under the thrall of the Taliban for several years with the local population suffering intimidation and violence. Schools have been closed and the infrastructure has suffered in the district where the insurgents have set up a shadow government. But more importantly the area is vital to the Taliban’s income as poppies are widely grown for opium and heroin use.
    While corruption is rife in the Afghan government it is hoped that local farmers will be persuaded to grow alternative crops denying the insurgents of the poppy income that sustains their operations.
    The central Helmand area is seen as key in winning the counter-insurgency battle in the province as it contains three-quarters of the population and much of the agricultural land.
    For weeks the local population has been warned of the impending attack by radio broadcasts and leafleting campaign and have been told to remain in their homes during combat operations.
    In Showal A Company plan to push their way up through the town street by street until they seize the bazaar area where Taliban forces are entrenched.
    A key iconic moment will come when the joint British and Afghan force removes the white Taliban flag that has been flying from a crane overlooking the town for several years.
    “We are expecting the Taliban to say to themselves that we are going to get malleted here and will decide to live another day,” said Major Shon Hackney, A Company’s commander, before the operation launched. “We want to go in without firing a shot if we can but we are also prepared for hard fighting.”
    The task force is supported by artillery firepower from all points of the compass. From Camp Bastion, 15 miles away to the north, highly accurate 250lb missiles from the Guided Multi Launch Rocket System are on hand alongside Paladin 155mm American heavy guns at another base.
    To the south the 105mm light guns of the 1 Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery are poised to fire and from all directions there are 81mm mortars at various patrol bases on hand.
    An armada of bombers overhead include RAF Tornado GR4s, American A10 Warthog and Dutch F16s. In addition armed Predator drones and other unmanned vehicles patrol the skies.
    In the coming days the force will carry out “super hot stabilisation” in which they will identify reconstruction projects such as refurbishing mosques or repairing roads to win the support of the locals.
    For the first time Helmand will have enough troops – what commanders call “force density” – to contain the insurgency, with an average of one soldier per 25 head of population.
    The operation has the full support of President Hamid Karzai who has been personally briefed by the British general in overall command of the operation, Major General Nick Carter.
    Lt Col Nick Lock, commanding officer of the Royal Welsh battle group, said: “We are making a big leap forward here. “Critical to this has been getting everyone on the ground safely as it is clearly a dangerous part of the world.
    “My gut feeling is that the Taliban will not put up a fight but if they do then we have enough resources to remove them by force.” After the area has been secured materials to build a number of patrol bases and checkpoints will be brought in to allow the British and Afghan police and army to tighten their grip on the area as it is expected the Taliban will counter-attack with a guerrilla campaign.
    Moshtarak means “together” in Dari and for the first time ISAF troops will be working shoulder-to-shoulder with equal numbers of Afghan security forces.
    If the operation is a success it will endorse the new counter-insurgency approach of Gen Stanley McChrystal who has insisted on Afghans taking a lead role and for the Kabul government to endorse the operation.
    “The way to defeat the Taliban is to show the people that they are better off being with the government of Afghanistan than they are with what the Taliban have to offer,” Major Gen Carter said.
    A list of combined forces in southern Afghan assault
    A combined Afghan and international force Saturday launched an assault on a Taliban-held region of southern Afghanistan.
    NATO said the force totalled 15,000 for Operation Mushtarak, meaning "together" in Dari, aimed at re-establishing Afghan sovereignty over an area controlled for years by insurgents and drug traffickers.
    The participants in the operation, according to NATO, are as follows:
    Approximately five brigades of Afghan forces, including members of the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, Afghan Border Police and Afghan Gendarmerie (formerly Afghan National Civil Order Police).
    ISAF Regional Command (South) elements, with forces drawn from the US, Britain, Denmark, Estonia and Canada.
    These elements include:
    1st Battalion, 3rd Marines (US)
    1st Battalion, 6th Marines (US)
    3rd Battalion, 6th Marines (US)
    4th Battalion, 23rd IN Stryker (US)
    Combat Engineer Battalion (US)
    Light Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (US)
    1 Coldstream Guards Battle Group (UK)
    1 Grenadier Guards Battle Group (UK)
    1 Royal Welsh Battle Group (UK)
    Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (UK)
    Operational Mentor and Liaison Team (UK)
    Task Force Pegasus
    Task Force Kandahar
     
  10. brahmastra

    brahmastra SENIOR MEMBER

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    Helicopter-borne U.S. Marines and Afghan troops swooped down on the Taliban-held town of Marjah before dawn Saturday, launching a long-expected attack to re-establish government control and undermine support for militants in their southern heartland.

    The assault on Marjah is the biggest offensive since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan and will serve as a major test of a new NATO strategy focusing on protecting civilians. The attack is also the first major combat operation since President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 U.S. reinforcements here in December to try to turn the tide of the war.

    To the north of Marjah, British, American and Canadian forces struck elsewhere in the Nad Ali district in a push to break Taliban power in Helmand province, one of the major battlefields of the war.

    Marine commanders say they expect between 400 to 1,000 insurgents — including more than 100 foreign fighters — to be holed up in Marjah, a town of 80,000 people in Helmand province. Marjah is the biggest southern town under Taliban control and the linchpin of the militants’ logistical and opium-smuggling network.

    “The first wave of choppers has landed inside Marjah. The operation has begun,” said Capt. Joshua Winfrey, commander of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, which was at the forefront of the attack.

    Several hundred U.S. Marines and some Afghan troops were in the first wave, flying over minefields the militants are believed to have planted around the town, 610 kilometres southwest of Kabul.

    The operation, codenamed “Moshtarak,” or Together, was described as the biggest joint operation of the Afghan war. Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, commander of NATO forces in southern Afghanistan, says 15,000 troops were involved, including some 7,500 troops fighting in Marjah.

    The helicopter assault was preceded by illumination flares fired over the town about 2 a.m. In the pitch darkness of a moonless night, the roar of helicopters could be heard overhead, flying in assault troops from multiple locations.

    The white flash of Hellfire and Tow missiles could be seen exploding over the town as flares illuminated the darkness to help assault troops spot targets.

    Once the town is secured, NATO hopes to rush in aid and restore public services in a bid to win support among the estimated 125,000 people who live in Marjah and surrounding villages. The Afghans’ ability to restore those services is crucial to the success of the operation and to prevent the Taliban from returning.

    Tribal elders have pleaded for NATO to finish the operation quickly and spare civilians — an appeal that offers some hope the townspeople will cooperate with Afghan and international forces once the Taliban are gone.

    At the Pentagon, a senior U.S. official said Afghan President Hamid Karzai had signed off on the attack.

    Another defence official said Mr. Karzai was informed of planning for the operation well in advance. The official said it marked a first in terms of both sharing information prior to the attack and planning collaboration with the Afghan government.

    Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because there were not authorized to speak publicly.

    The second official said the number of Afghan security forces in the district have roughly doubled since Mr. Obama’s first infusion of some 10,000 Marines in southern Afghanistan last year.

    The Marjah offensive involves close combat in extremely difficult terrain, that official said. A close grid of wide canals dug by the United States as an aid project decades ago make the territory a particularly rich agricultural prize but complicate the advance of U.S. forces.

    On the eve of the attack, cars and trucks jammed the main road out of Marjah on Friday as hundreds of civilians defied militant orders and fled the area. For weeks, U.S. commanders had signalled their intention to attack Marjah in hopes that civilians would seek shelter.

    Residents told The Associated Press by telephone this week that Taliban fighters were preventing them from leaving, warning the roads were planted with land mines to slow the NATO advance.

    Still, many people fled anyway for the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, 30 kilometres to the northeast. They told journalists they had to leave quickly and secretly to avoid recrimination from Taliban commanders.

    Some said they slipped out of town when Taliban commanders weren’t watching.

    “We were not allowed to come here. We haven’t brought any of our belongings. We just tried to get ourselves out,” said Bibi Gul, an elderly woman in a black headscarf who arrived in nearby Lashkar Gah with three of her sons. She left three more sons behind in Marjah.

    Police searched vehicles for any signs of militants, in one case prodding bales of cotton with a metal rod in search of hidden weapons.

    “They don’t allow families to leave,” Marjah resident Qari Mohammad Nabi said of the Taliban. “The families can only leave the village when they are not seen leaving.”

    Provincial spokesman Daoud Ahmadi said about 450 families — an estimated 2,700 people — had already sought refuge in Lashkar Gah. Most moved in with relatives but more than 100 were being sheltered by the government, he said.

    Ahmadi said the local government was prepared to shelter 7,000 families in nearby towns, providing them with food, blankets and dishes.

    In advance of the attack, Afghan officials urged community leaders in Marjah to use their influence to persuade the Taliban to lay down their weapons and avoid a bloodbath. In return, the officials promised to improve the lives of the people there.

    During a meeting Thursday, Helmand’s governor, Gulab Mangal, urged tribal elders from the town to “use any avenue you have, direct or indirect, to tell the Taliban who don’t want to fight, that they can join with us,” according to the chief of Helmand’s provincial council, Mohammad Anwar Khan.

    For their part, the elders begged for limited use of airstrikes because of the risk of civilian deaths, Khan said Friday.

    Another of the elders at the meeting, Mohammad Karim Khan, said he would not dare approach the Taliban and tell them to give up their guns to the government.

    “We can’t talk to the Taliban. We are farmers and poor people and we are not involved in these things like the politicians are,” said Khan, who is not related to the provincial council chief.

    The Hindu : News / International : NATO launches attack on Afghan’s Marjah
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2010
  11. S-2

    S-2 PROFESSIONAL

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    We've already a thread just below in this section on Marjah. You should try to assure that existing topics close to yours aren't already started.

    Thanks.:usflag:
     
  12. brahmastra

    brahmastra SENIOR MEMBER

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    sorry, my bad.
     
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  13. Sino-PakFriendship

    Sino-PakFriendship BANNED

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    Hope both USA/NATO and Taliban die together!

    USA/NATO and Taliban = Enemy of World Peace!
     
  14. Bill Longley

    Bill Longley SENIOR MEMBER

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    ISAF and Afghan forces have started Operation Mushtrik in regeons of Majrja and Nad e Ali in Helmand Province.
    They are clearly coping Pakistani model of counter insurgency as used in Operation Rah e Nijat and Rahe e Rast.
    Time was given to civilians to vacate the areas to control colletral damage.

    6 or 7 months back operation Khanjer was conducted in same province in which 9000 troops mainly British and American and Afghan took Part. But nothing well mentioning was achieved.

    this time nearly 15000 troops are taking part in Operation code named as Mushtrik.

    majority of civilians have left the area and there are reports Taliban are also well dug in.
    According to reports , like Operation Rah e Nijat majority of troops are heli lifted and dropped in combat zone .

    Taliban is a liquid force and it is expected that they will give way easily. but will it be a victory for ISAF?
    as an Afghan Proverb goes " YOU MAY HAVE THE WATCHES BUT WE HAVE THE TIME"

    to eliminate this , Afghan Police is with the forces who will take charge of controlled area.
    but do Afghan Police have capability or will they be able to control Talibs and maintain law an order?

    Will it be a one more example of waste of resources and men by ISAF?

    I personally belive US want to negociate on equal grounds and thats why It will try to cut wings of Taliban so that they accept few NATO/ US bases in Afghanistan when US/ISAF Withdraws.
    Actual war is not against terror , its for central Asia, the great Game.
    what is the assesment of members
     
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  15. s90

    s90 SENIOR MEMBER

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