Deborah Amos

Deborah Amos covers the Middle East for NPR News. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition.

Amos travels extensively across the Middle East covering a range of stories including the rise of well-educated Syria youth who are unqualified for jobs in a market-drive economy, a series focusing on the emerging power of Turkey and the plight of Iraqi refugees.

In 2009, Amos won the Edward Weintal Prize for Diplomatic Reporting from Georgetown University and in 2010 was awarded the Edward R. Murrow Life Time Achievement Award by Washington State University. Amos was part of a team of reporters who won a 2004 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for coverage of Iraq. A Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1991-1992, Amos was returned to Harvard in 2010 as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School.

In 2003, Amos returned to NPR after a decade in television news, including ABC's Nightline and World News Tonight and the PBS programs NOW with Bill Moyers and Frontline.

When Amos first came to NPR in 1977, she worked first as a director and then a producer for Weekend All Things Considered until 1979. For the next six years, she worked on radio documentaries, which won her several significant honors. In 1982, Amos received the Prix Italia, the Ohio State Award, and a DuPont-Columbia Award for "Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown" and in 1984 she received a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for "Refugees."

From 1985 until 1993, Amos spend most of her time at NPR reporting overseas, including as the London Bureau Chief and as an NPR foreign correspondent based in Amman, Jordan. During that time, Amos won several awards, including an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a Break thru Award, and widespread recognition for her coverage of the Gulf War in 1991.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Amos is also the author of Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East (Public Affairs, 2010) and Lines in the Sand: Desert Storm and the Remaking of the Arab World (Simon and Schuster, 1992).

Amos began her career after receiving a degree in broadcasting from the University of Florida at Gainesville.

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Middle East
5:35 am
Sat July 21, 2012

In Syria, An Urgent Effort To Organize Rebels

Members of the group Hamza Abdualmuttalib trained this week near the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Bulent Kilic AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat July 21, 2012 7:47 pm

The battle for Syria appears to have reached a decisive stage. Tanks are on the streets of Damascus as civilians flee the city, and rebels have seized outposts on the borders with Turkey and Iraq.

The opposition has shown a surprising military capability over the past few days. As fighting intensifies in the Syrian capital, there's an urgent push under way to organize the rebel force.

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Middle East
2:39 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

A Syrian Defector Confronts A Sectarian Divide

Syria's ongoing fighting is increasingly a sectarian conflict with the majority Sunni Muslims facing off against the Alawites who make up most of the country's ruling elite. Here, government opponents rally in the northern town of Mareh on June 29.
Vedat Xhymshit AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 6:16 pm

The violence in Syria is increasingly being called a civil war, and it can also be called a sectarian war, because much of the fighting pits the majority Sunni Muslims against the minority Alawites who make up much of the country's leadership.

Yet not everyone fits neatly into a category. There are some Alawites who have joined the uprising.

One 30-year-old Alawite man, who doesn't want his name revealed, is nervous as he lights another cigarette and tells the story of how he came to side with the opposition and turned his back on the Alawite rulers.

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Middle East
1:09 am
Thu July 12, 2012

For Syrian-American Doctors, A Painful Homecoming

Dr. Yahya Abdul Rahim (left) and Dr. Ammar Ghanem are among the Syrian-American doctors who have come to the Turkish-Syrian border to help Syrians wounded in the anti-government revolt. Some work to improve the flow of supplies; others treat patients in Turkey; still others, like Ghanem, strap backpacks on and walk across the border to help those in Syria.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 6:30 pm

The Turkish border is a key link for the revolt in neighboring Syria. Turkish ambulances are stationed at border crossings to cope with the flood of injured Syrians, often as many as 30 a day. And now, Syrian-American doctors are volunteering in a humanitarian effort to help the wounded and to bring crucial medicines for field hospitals inside Syria.

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Middle East
1:57 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

Syrian Rebels Carve Buffer Zone Near Turkish Border

More than 35,000 Syrians have sought shelter in Turkey. Most of the refugees at the Kilis refugee camp in southern Turkey are women and children.
Adem Altan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 5:34 pm

At this isolated part of the Turkish border, there's just one Turkish guard, a fence and, beyond an olive grove, Syria.

The Syrian side is just a short walk, perhaps 10 minutes. The area looks completely calm and there is no sign of the Syrian military.

Abu Amar, a rebel who has fought in Syria for five weeks, walked across this field from the Syrian village of Atma, which is now serving as a rebel headquarters. He says much of the northwestern province of Idlib is now controlled by the rebels, and it has become easy to move back and forth between Syria and Turkey here.

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Middle East
1:01 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Across Continents, Syrian Family Seeks Assad's Ouster

Syrian activist Karam Nachar is pursuing a doctorate in Middle Eastern history at Princeton. His family is working on several fronts against the Syrian regime. His father, who has been jailed previously, helped form the Syrian National Council, an organization of dissidents.
Ozier Muhammad The New York Times

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 3:28 am

The Nachar family has long been on the radar of the Syrian government, and since last year, they have become even more visible.

When Syrians first started openly protesting inside the country in the spring of 2011, 29-year-old Syrian Karam Nachar was working on his doctorate in Middle East history at Princeton University. He joined demonstrations outside U.N. headquarters in New York.

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Middle East
1:17 am
Thu June 28, 2012

In A Syrian Souk, Support For The Regime Falters

People walk through Hamidiyah market in Damascus, Syria, Feb. 28. The merchants of this landmark bazaar were once ardent supporters of President Bashar Assad. That's no longer the case.
Bassem Tellawi AP

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 6:25 pm

In Syria's capital, Damascus, the Hamidiyah souk is a landmark — a centuries-old covered market linked to a maze of alleyways in the heart of the capital. Over the 15-month uprising, Syria's merchants have supported the regime of President Bashar Assad. But that support is crumbling.

Shops selling everything from cold drinks, ice cream and spices to wedding dresses and electric guitars line Hamidiyah's cobblestone streets.

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Middle East
11:53 am
Tue June 26, 2012

Syrian Youth Lead Rebellion, And Teach Their Elders

A Syrian youth flashes the victory sign as he stands in front of a building that was covered with anti-government graffiti — though local authorities painted over it — in the town of Duma, outside Damascus, in February.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 7:06 pm

The uprising in Syria began in the spring of 2011 when rebellious teenagers scrawled anti-regime graffiti on a wall in the southern city of Daraa.

The protest against their arrest, and the regime's brutal response, sparked the wider revolt. Throughout the unrest, the country's younger generation has been at the forefront of efforts to end the repressive regime of President Bashar Assad.

At a cafe in the heart of Damascus recently, a young man flips open his cellphone to show pictures of people killed in the uprising.

"Actually, they are my friends," he says.

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Middle East
4:10 am
Sun June 24, 2012

Syrians Now Willing To Talk, But No Names, Please

President Bashar Assad addresses Parliament on June 3. Syrians in the capital, Damascus, have become more willing to speak out, though they still don't want to be identified by name. Many feel the Assad regime is losing control of parts of the country.
Anonymous SANA/AP

In Damascus, Syrians now openly speak their minds, but often won't offer a name for the record.

The "wall of fear" is crumbling even in the capital, where the security police have the heaviest presence. Syrians have lived under surveillance and emergency law for years, but after 15 months of anti-government protest and a brutal response by the regime, the killings have changed people.

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Middle East
11:38 am
Mon June 18, 2012

After 30 Years In Syria, Outspoken Priest Is Expelled

The Italian Jesuit priest Paolo Dall'Oglio, shown here at the Syrian Maronite monastery of Deir Mar Musa in 2007, lived in Syria for 30 years before he was expelled Saturday. Dall'Oglio has spoken out in support of protesters who oppose President Bashar Assad.
Louai Beshara AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 9:05 pm

Syria has expelled an Italian Jesuit priest for his outspoken criticism of the government's crackdown on a popular uprising. The Rev. Paolo Dall'Oglio has lived in Syria for 30 years, helping to restore a 1,000-year-old monastery that became a center for Muslim and Christian understanding.

Dall'Oglio's departure from Damascus on Saturday was sudden. More than a year ago, the government ordered him out, but a campaign on Facebook — "No to the Exile of Father Paolo" — delayed his expulsion.

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Middle East
6:36 am
Fri June 15, 2012

U.N. Sees 'Lack Of Willingness' For Peace In Syria

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 8:56 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

After a week of escalating violence in Syria, the chief U.N. official there in the country said today that efforts to resolve the conflict have had little effect. It was a bleak assessment from the man leading the United Nations observer mission for the past six months. NPR's Deborah Amos joins us from Damascus, where she has been out with observers assessing the situation.

And Deb, what was the message today from Major General Robert Mood?

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Middle East
3:40 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

At Syrian Military Hospital, The Casualties Mount

Members of the U.N. observers mission in Syria visit wounded soldiers and policemen at Tishreen Military Hospital in Damascus on May 23. Casualties among Syrian government forces are rising sharply.
SANA /Handout EPA /Landov

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 7:02 pm

Syrian activists have posted thousands of videos of civilians killed and wounded in the 15-month-old conflict. But there have been many casualties on the government side as well, and they are on display at a military hospital in the capital, Damascus.

For Abdul Kareem Mustapha, a 51-year-old colonel in the Syrian army, the war came for him at 8:15 a.m. on his way to his military post.

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Middle East
4:14 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

In A Syrian Village, Evidence Of A Slaughter

Anti-government protesters in the northern Syrian village of Hass protest on Thursday following the deaths of dozens of civilians a day earlier in the village of Mazraat al-Qubair. The banner reads, "The al-Qubair massacre challenges the world's humanity."
Edlib News Network AP

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 8:03 pm

NPR correspondent Deborah Amos joined U.N. monitors and a small group of journalists Friday who were able to enter the Syrian village of Mazraat al-Qubair, where 78 people, including women and children, were killed on Wednesday by pro-government forces, according to opposition activists.

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The Two-Way
4:22 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

In Syria, Some Places 'Are Already Living The Civil War'

A Syrian boy sits in the rubble of house which was destroyed during a military operation by the Syrian pro-Assad army in April in the town of Taftanaz, Syria.
AP

NPR's Deborah Amos has been covering the uprising in Syria since it began more than a year ago. Like other foreign reporters, she has had to cover much of the conflict from afar because the Syrian government has only rarely granted visas. She has just returned to Syria for the first time since last fall and sent this dispatch:

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Middle East
8:37 am
Thu May 31, 2012

Preaching Nonviolence, Syrian Activist Heads Home

Sheik Jawdat Said, 81, has been urging nonviolent protest in Syria for decades, and has been arrested many times. A scholar and an activist, shown here speaking at American University in Washington in March, he is heading back to Syria this week and plans to resume his call for peaceful opposition to the government.
Jeff Watts American University

Syria's foremost proponent of nonviolent protest says he's returning to Damascus this week and will keep delivering his long-standing message despite the country's worsening bloodshed.

Sheik Jawdat Said is an 81-year-old Islamic scholar whose books and teachings helped inspire young Syrian activists to challenge the regime in peaceful protests last year.

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Middle East
4:33 am
Sun May 13, 2012

Largely Unseen, Syria Carries Out Arrest Campaign

Syrian President Bashar Assad's government has waged a two-pronged campaign against the opposition, critics say. His military continues to fight, while nonviolent activists are being detained in increasing numbers, according to monitoring groups.
AFP/Getty Images

President Bashar Assad's regime has launched a new and sweeping arrest campaign of opposition activists and intellectuals in the past few weeks, according to Western analysts and diplomats.

The growing tally of arrests has gone largely unnoticed, overshadowed by the daily violence that threatens to jeopardize the U.N. peace plan. But in combination, both are undermining the already faint hopes of peace.

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Middle East
8:22 am
Thu April 19, 2012

For Syria, A 'Lawrence Of Arabia' Moment

Syrians walk through a badly damaged neighborhood in the central city of Homs on Sunday. Despite a declared cease-fire, fighting has continued in a number of Syrian cities, and peace efforts are at risk of collapsing.
AP

In the final scenes of the classic film Lawrence of Arabia, the Arab rebel fighters are wrapped up with internal, petty squabbles in Damascus as the great powers maneuver for the future of Syria.

Now, nearly a century after the events depicted in that movie, there's a similar Lawrence of Arabia moment playing out in Syria.

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Middle East
8:39 am
Wed April 11, 2012

At The Met: A Middle East Transition, Centuries Ago

The Met's exhibit examines Christian Byzantium and Islam as they first came into contact in the Middle East in the seventh to ninth centuries. This ivory carving is from what is known as the Grado Chair, a Christian artifact from the Eastern Mediterranean or Egypt in the seventh to eighth century.
Reunion des Musees Nationaux/Art Resource, NY The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:53 am

The yearlong tumult of the Arab Spring has reached all the way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

A stunning and timely new show, "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition," covers exactly the places caught up in modern day revolts, and many of the developments from more than a millennium ago are closely linked to the events of today.

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Middle East
9:36 am
Wed March 14, 2012

Aid Group's Role In Syria Pushes Limits

Campaigners from the international advocacy group Avaaz protest Russian arms sales to the Syrian government during a demonstration in front of the Russian Embassy in Berlin on Nov. 2.
Michael Sohn AP

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 11:07 am

A year into the Syrian uprising, with the world community reluctant to intervene, one international group has taken a direct and risky role in Syria — even taking part in the high-profile rescue of Western journalists from the besieged city of Homs.

Avaaz, a global online pressure group based in New York, has given crucial support to the uprising and the Syrian activist networks that aim to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad.

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The Two-Way
12:35 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

A Passion To Bear Witness: Why War Correspondents Take The Risk

Shadid won two Pulitzer prizes for international reporting, in 2004 and 2010. Here, he poses on the campus of Brown University in the year of his second win.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:01 am

Journalists don't talk about the danger. They don't usually recount the moments of agonizing terror that come after a bad decision to continue on down the road as the faint sound of mortar shells grows louder.

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Africa
2:27 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

In Morocco, The Arab Spring's Mixed Bounty

Relatives of Abdelwahab Zaydoun, a 27-year-old Moroccan who set himself on fire to protest his unemployment and died from his burns, react to his death in Casablanca last month. A year after street protests in Morocco prompted some reforms, Moroccans remain discontent with the gap between rich and poor, and the slow strides toward democracy.
Abdeljalil Bounhar AP

Originally published on Tue February 7, 2012 4:26 pm

If you're looking for the reasons for unrest in Morocco, you can find some answers while zipping along in a golf cart at a resort in the historic town of Marrakech.

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Middle East
10:41 am
Thu February 2, 2012

30 Years Later, Photos Emerge From Killings In Syria

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Hama massacre of 1982 in central Syria. According to Abu Aljude, who was 16 at the time, these images are documentation of the destruction by President Hafez Assad's regime. In this image, Aljude identifies a bombed Christian church.
Courtesy of Abu Jade

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:03 am

Syria's protest generation is obsessed with images.

Thousands of videos have been posted on YouTube during the 10-month revolt against President Bashar Assad's regime, even as regime snipers take deadly aim at the photographers.

The smugglers who carry critical medical supplies to underground clinics in protest cities also smuggle in cameras hidden in baseball caps and pocket pens. The obsession comes from the conviction that documenting the brutality will stop it — this time.

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Africa
10:01 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

In Morocco, Unemployment Can Be A Full-Time Job

Demonstrators carry posters of Abdelwahab Zaydoun, who set himself on fire and died from his burns Tuesday. Zaydoun was part of a movement protesting unemployment in Morocco.
Abdeljalil Bounhar AP

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 8:04 am

It is rush hour in Rabat, the Moroccan capital, and time for the march of unemployed college graduates.

They are part of a movement that has become a rite of passage. It's a path to a government career for a lucky few, even though it can take years.

"I have a degree, a master's degree in English, and I'm here ... idle without a job, without dignity, without anything," protester Abdul Rahim Momneh says.

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Africa
4:31 am
Sun January 22, 2012

In Morocco, Islamists Learn To Work With A King

Morocco's Islamist Justice and Development Party heads the country's new government, the result of snap elections called by the king. Here, Abdelilah Benkirane, the party's secretary general and now prime minister, arrives for an election rally in Sale on Nov. 1. The party now faces political as well as economic challenges.
Paul Schemm AP

An Islamist party heads Morocco's newly elected government, part of a wave of Islamist election victories following uprisings across North Africa.

But Morocco's case is a bit different. King Mohammed VI responded quickly to a pro-democracy movement last year with a new constitution and snap elections. The Justice and Development Party, known as the PJD, won the most votes in November. Now, Moroccans ask: How will this popular Islamist party govern?

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Africa
10:01 pm
Thu January 19, 2012

For Moroccan Activists, The King's Reforms Fall Short

Morocco's King Mohammed VI introduced reforms after protests began last February. But activists say the measures didn't go far enough and they are still taking to the streets. Here, the king is shown in his palace in Rabat on June 17.
Azzouz Boukallouch AP

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 6:42 am

When a pro-democracy movement took to the streets of Morocco last February, King Mohammed VI, who has been on the throne for more than decade, responded swiftly.

Within weeks, the king had proposed a new constitution and snap elections. The Moroccan example of reforms without violence was hailed by some as a model.

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The Arab Spring: One Year Later
10:01 pm
Sun January 8, 2012

Is The Arab Spring Good Or Bad For The U.S.?

Originally published on Mon January 9, 2012 7:09 am

The Arab uprisings have ousted or weakened some American allies. Elections in Tunisia and Egypt have shown the strength of Islamist political parties. And after the long, hard war in Iraq, the U.S. appears to have a diminished appetite for new, complicated undertakings in the region. In the last of our six-part series on the upheavals changing the Middle East, NPR's Deborah Amos looks at what it all means for America.

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Africa
12:51 pm
Fri January 6, 2012

Rapper's Imprisonment Tests Moroccan Reforms

Moroccan rapper Mouad Belrhouate, shown here on an album cover, is commonly known as El-Haqed, or "the defiant one." He's been jailed for four months and is awaiting trial in Casablanca. His supporters say his case shows the limits of recent political changes introduced by King Mohammed VI.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 8:18 pm

Morocco has been called one of the winners of the Arab Spring. The country's young king, Mohammed VI, offered a new constitution and early elections, taking the steam out of a protest movement that rose up last February.

But the arrest and trial of an artist who writes provocative rap songs show that there seem to be limits to the reforms.

The rap songs of 24-year-old Mouad Belrhouate are popular in Morocco, even more so after the four months he has spent in jail.

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Middle East
10:01 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

Syrian Uprising Raises The Specter Of Sectarian War

Syria's embattled President Bashar Assad still has supporters, particularly among his fellow Alawites, a minority who believe they will suffer if Assad is ousted. Here, Assad supporters rally Tuesday in the capital, Damascus.
SANA handout EPA /Landov

For the past 10 months, Syrians have taken to the streets in large numbers to oppose a repressive regime that has not hesitated to use force. The United Nations estimates more than 5,000 Syrians have died, and it is far from clear how the uprising will play out. President Bashar Assad's regime blames the revolt on Islamist militants and casts the uprising as a threat to Syria's minorities, including Assad's fellow Alawites and the country's Christians.

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Middle East
1:00 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Qatar Emerges As Major Force In Arab World

The tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar has deep pockets and a big microphone in the form of its news network, Al Jazeera. In recent months, those assets have been used to propel the Arab Spring forward. Qatar has supported rebel movements in Libya and Syria, and is promoting a "Marshall Fund" for Oman, Morocco and Jordan. The country's emir has close, personal relationships with the emerging Islamist leaders from Casablanca to Cairo — and meanwhile provides a home to the largest U.S. military base outside the United States.

Middle East
3:04 pm
Thu December 29, 2011

In Syria, Arab League Observers Caught In Crossfire

In this frame grab from an amateur video posted on YouTube, members of the Arab League monitor violence in the Syrian city of Homs this week.
YouTube

Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 4:51 pm

Despite the presence of an Arab League monitoring mission, Syrian security forces shot dead at least 40 protesters on Thursday, according to activists.

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Middle East
1:00 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Arab League Monitors Visit Besieged Syrian City

Arab League monitors visited the central city of Homs, an opposition stronghold, besieged and under bombardment by the Syrian army until the monitors showed up. Syrian army armor was withdrawn from the city streets ahead of the visit, but activists say they expect a resumption of the army offensive as soon as the monitors leave. They also complain that they have not been allowed to meet with the Arab League team.

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