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Families of Afghan veterans brand Biden’s withdrawal ‘a slap in the face’


Joe Biden‘s withdrawal from Afghanistan has been condemned by families who say the rapid Taliban takeover is a ‘slap in the face’ to US troops killed while fighting there.  

One mother, whose son was among the 2,300 Americans killed in Afghanistan, said his efforts were ‘in vain’ and that leaving the country was a ‘violent retreat’. 

Another woman – whose son is a 101st Airborne Division soldier tweeted: ‘(The withdrawal) is a slap in the face to the soldiers and families of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice when we fought for the freedom of the Afghan people’. 

‘We left there knowing the job was not done when there was massive pullout and that’s why the ones there remained, to train and ready the Afghanistan people to be self-sufficient and have the equipment and strategic abilities to survive the Taliban.’

Speaking to DailyMail.com, the mom, who did not want to be named, said that her son served in the US Army for 20 years. He served two long tours to Afghanistan and then three shorter tours there and in Iraq.   

Veterans and their families are speaking out in wake of the  US military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan (pictured: US soldier pointing his gun towards an Afghan passenger at the Kabul airport in Kabul on Monday)

President Joe Biden ordered about 6,000 troops (US soldiers pictured in Kabul in 2012) to help evacuate US staff 'and other allied personnel' from Afghanistan as the Taliban continues to overtake the country

President Joe Biden ordered about 6,000 troops (US soldiers pictured in Kabul in 2012) to help evacuate US staff ‘and other allied personnel’ from Afghanistan as the Taliban continues to overtake the country

She added: ‘I’ve cried tears since yesterday because it just hurts to see all of that time, effort, lives, going down the tubes. 

‘So many of his division lost their lives. He witnessed it,’ the mother explained. 

‘He was there when Sadam’s sons were killed. He saw officers shot at point blank range. 

‘It’s hard to believe that all who fought so hard, who died, who will never be the same because of mental illness or loss of facilities was all in vain.’ 

‘He feels emotional as well. All that he gave up to serve, which was his honor to do for our country, has been lost. He missed his babies growing up. 

‘That’s huge to a young father. He’s angry. As am I. This administration has made a mockery of our efforts,’ she continued.

Army widow Jennie Taylor (above), whose husband, Brent, died in 2018 while serving in Afghanistan, described the climate as painful, saying ''t hurts to watch the city fall, it hurts to watch the country fall'

Army widow Jennie Taylor (above), whose husband, Brent, died in 2018 while serving in Afghanistan, described the climate as painful, saying ”t hurts to watch the city fall, it hurts to watch the country fall’

Brent (pictured) served multiple tours in Afghanistan. Taylor says her husband knew it was possible that a situation like the one currently unfolding in the country was possible, but he made the sacrifice to serve regardless

Brent (pictured) served multiple tours in Afghanistan. Taylor says her husband knew it was possible that a situation like the one currently unfolding in the country was possible, but he made the sacrifice to serve regardless

Meanwhile, Army widow Jennie Taylor, whose husband, Brent, died in 2018 while serving in Afghanistan, expressed similar feelings.

‘It hurts to watch the city fall, it hurts to watch the country fall,’ Taylor told ABC 4 on Sunday. 

Brent served multiple tours in Afghanistan. Taylor says her husband knew it was possible that a situation like the one currently unfolding in the country was possible, but he made the sacrifice to serve regardless.

‘He went to war in 2018 knowing what happened today was likely to have happened – or at least could have happened. And he didn’t say ‘Nah, that’s a lost cause, I’m out of here, I’m not willing to put on my boots for that one.” 

Taylor is concerned that families will feel their sacrifices were in vain and urges Americans to remember and honor the heroism of the nation’s soldiers. 

‘He and thousands, tens of thousands – hundreds of thousands of brave American men and women and our allied forces – have gone to war anyway,’ she said. 

‘As we get so deep into the politics and policies of war, I worry we’re going to have service members who have served in those wars feel that they fought in vain. I worry there’s Gold Star families like mine who are going to say I lost my loved one for no reason. And I just can’t get myself to think that way, I don’t see it that way.’

Taylor continued: ‘We’ve got to make sure that as we say well, was this war just a waste? We can’t — cannot — let that translate into thinking that the service our military men and women have provided is a waste.’ 

Sue Claussen Bunger shared a heartfelt tribute on Twitter to her son, Erik, who served as a member of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2002 – 2004. She said Erik died in 2020 from injuries related to his service 

Bunger said that she has ‘been giving the situation in Afghanistan a lot of thought’ and reflecting on conversations she used to have with Erik. 

‘Erik would be sick about what is happening to the Afghani people, but would reiterate that this was all handled wrong from the beginning (2001). When you spend 20 years fighting in a region, then you leave and the region falls back into terrorists hands, it’s time to realize that terrorism is not a person nor country, it is a war strategy. We need to learn how to combat that strategy with global support,’ she wrote.

Sue Claussen Bunger shared a tribute on Twitter to her son, Erik (pictured), who served in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2002 - 2004. She said: 'Erik would be sick about what is happening to the Afghani people, but would reiterate that this was all handled wrong from the beginning'

Sue Claussen Bunger shared a tribute on Twitter to her son, Erik (pictured), who served in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2002 – 2004. She said: ‘Erik would be sick about what is happening to the Afghani people, but would reiterate that this was all handled wrong from the beginning’

Bunger argued that ‘nation building is not an effective strategy to fight terrorism’. She said that Erik believed the former president George W. Bush’s Administration ‘concocted a war in Iraq and took their eyes off Afghanistan,’ allowing the Taliban to regroup.

‘Anyone who was part of that administration needs to stand down and refrain from giving ‘advice’ now,’ she asserted.

She also said that many veterans are going to feel like ‘they sacrificed for nothing and a lot of Afghani people were killed for nothing’. 

Bunger also noted that Afghani fighters told the 82nd Airborne Division back in 2002 that ‘when you leave we are leaving’.

‘What’s the alternative? Stay forever? Are you willing to risk your life or the life of a loved one? Too many armchair ‘warriors’ today,’ Bunger wrote. ‘Most importantly, Erik often said, ‘Don’t tout democracy in other places, when you won’t fully support democracy in your own land.”  

Chris Horton (pictured) was killed fighting in Afghanistan. His family members say they are saddened by the withdrawal from the nation and how things were left in 'such a disarray'

Chris Horton (pictured) was killed fighting in Afghanistan. His family members say they are saddened by the withdrawal from the nation and how things were left in ‘such a disarray’

The heart break is also found among the Gold Star families who spoke to Fox News on Monday.

‘My heart is broken, our hearts are broken as a Gold Star community,’ said Jane Horton whose husband, Christopher, was an Army specialist in Afghanistan.

She says their family was overcome with ‘sadness’ when they learned that the US would be withdrawing from the country.

‘My son … laid down his life. He was killed in action. Chris was fighting for what he believed in, to protect our freedoms here,’ Jane’s father-in-law David Horton said. 

‘A secure Afghanistan made our nation more secure. So, we’re just sad to see this. I agree, we had to leave, we didn’t have to leave this way and with things in such a disarray.’

Another Gold Star parent, Krista Keating-Joseph, told the news outlet that she feared for the Afghan families who would lose their children.

‘It’s over for them,’ she said of the families.

Keating-Joseph’s son, Charlie, was killed while overseas. She said Charlie was motivated to become a Navy SEAL after thousands of Americans lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks.

‘He went in there to do his job – he did his job. In matter of fact, because of him and others who have died, he saved a Christian village, he helped those people, he started stabilizing their area,’ she explained.

‘It’s sad because those Christian families and those mothers are going to lose their children like I did.’

She continued: ‘We need to remember that we could’ve gone out of there in a better way so that we could’ve kept that stability – stabilize the Middle East really – and save all the Christian families and freedoms that the women were driving.’

Krista Keating-Joseph (left) said she fears for the Afghan families who will loose their children like she did. Her son, Charlie (right), was a Navy SEAL who was killed in action

Joe Kent (left), whose wife Shannon (right) was killed in 2019 fighting ISIS in Syria, also expressed his concern for Biden's decision to withdraw from Afghanistan

Joe Kent (left), whose wife Shannon (right) was killed in 2019 fighting ISIS in Syria, also expressed his concern for Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan

Joe Kent, whose wife was killed in 2019 fighting ISIS in Syria, also expressed his concern for Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.

‘My wife, Shannon Kent, was killed in 2019 fighting ISIS in Syria. The parallel here that I would make – she was killed a month after President Trump tried to get our troops out of Syria the first time,’ he said.

‘After that the military industrial complex turned against a dually-elected president and conducted slow rolls so that way would leave our troops in harms way when they didn’t have to be, when we had no clear national security objective to be over there. Less than a month later she and three other great Americans were killed.’

Kent argued that Biden gave the Taliban ‘three months of prime fighting season time’ to plan their attack.

‘Trump tried to get our troops out for all four years of his administration. Biden comes in and in order to not give President Trump a victory, he gave the Taliban three months of prime fighting season time to plan this assault,’ said Kent.

‘We need to do everything in our power right now, move heaven and earth, destroy whatever we have to destroy, kill whoever we have to kill to get all of our people out. That needs to be our top priority right now.’

Marc Simpson (pictured) served in Afghanistan for nine months in 2003 as an air traffic controller. He said he is 'angered and saddened by a few aspects of the current situation'

Marc Simpson (pictured) served in Afghanistan for nine months in 2003 as an air traffic controller. He said he is ‘angered and saddened by a few aspects of the current situation’

Marc Simpson served in Afghanistan for nine months in 2003 as an air traffic controller. His unit, the Army’s 158th Aviation Regiment, was responsible for air traffic control for Kandahar International Airport during that time.

Simpson says the ongoing situation in Afghanistan has been weighing heavily on him.  

‘I don’t fault Biden necessarily for his decision to abide by the agreement put in place during the previous administration. 20 years is a long time for our service members to be committed to a dangerous environment, far away from their friends, families and all that is familiar to them. However, I am angered and saddened by a few aspects of the current situation,’ he told DailyMail.com.

According to the veteran, ‘Afghanistan was forgotten the moment we declared war in Iraq’. He claims the war in Iraq was an ‘unnecessary distraction’ from the ongoing mission to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists.

‘For the commitment of resources to that boondoggle, we may have been able to accomplish the mission of completely destroying the Taliban,’ he said. ’20 years and however many trillion dollars later Afghanistan is once again under rule by a group whose stated goal is to return the world to the same state they believe it was in when the prophet walked the earth.’

Simpson claimed the 'Afghanistan was forgotten the moment we declared war in Iraq'. He claims the war in Iraq was an 'unnecessary distraction' from the ongoing mission to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists

Simpson claimed the ‘Afghanistan was forgotten the moment we declared war in Iraq’. He claims the war in Iraq was an ‘unnecessary distraction’ from the ongoing mission to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists

Simpson argued the US made promises to the Afghan people that were not fulfilled, partially due to the war in Iraq

Simpson argued the US made promises to the Afghan people that were not fulfilled, partially due to the war in Iraq

Simpson is frustrated that the US did not learn from its previous mistakes and is concerned about the access the Taliban will now have. He said: 'The Taliban has access to all the soldiers that we trained and all the weapons we provided the Afghanis to live their lives in a normal functioning society'

Simpson is frustrated that the US did not learn from its previous mistakes and is concerned about the access the Taliban will now have. He said: ‘The Taliban has access to all the soldiers that we trained and all the weapons we provided the Afghanis to live their lives in a normal functioning society’

Simpson argued the US made promises to the Afghan people so that they would ‘no longer had to live in fear of beheadings in soccer fields, that little girls could go to school without fear, that they could live in peace in the modern world’.  

‘Those promises are betrayed by the same mechanism that brought on the Iraq war,’ Simpson shared.

‘I don’t understand why the people of Afghanistan couldn’t be persuaded to fight the Taliban with the tools and training that we left them. Now the Taliban has access to all the soldiers that we trained and all the weapons we provided the Afghanis to live their lives in a normal functioning society.’

Simpson said he is frustrated that the US ‘failed to learn the lessons on Vietnam,’ citing the Powell Doctrine — a decades old document with stating a list of questions that must all be answered affirmatively before the US can take military action.

‘Why do we need to continue this cycle of invasion and then lack of interest followed by broken promises and pictures of crowds of future refugees? Am I going to be sending my children to risk their lives in a noble-minded but futile effort at nation-building?’ he questioned. 

Andrew Tangen (left) and his brother, Stephen Tangen (right), both served in Afghanistan. Andrew says the Afghan people have been betrayed and has called upon our nation's leaders to act differently. He said: 'This is now a full blown humanitarian crisis and the world will witness the brutality so many of us witnessed during our time in Afghanistan on full display'

Andrew Tangen (left) and his brother, Stephen Tangen (right), both served in Afghanistan. Andrew says the Afghan people have been betrayed and has called upon our nation’s leaders to act differently. He said: ‘This is now a full blown humanitarian crisis and the world will witness the brutality so many of us witnessed during our time in Afghanistan on full display’

Andrew Tangen served in the Paktika, Kwost and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan as a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy from 2010 – 2012.  

He said he has mixed emotions about the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

‘At first, I felt it was time for us to leave and let the Afghan people chart their own course, but as time grew closer I felt we were moving too quickly,’ Tangen told DailyMail.com.

Tangen said, that like many other former service members, his ‘heart is breaking’ for the Afghan people.

‘The friends, brothers and sisters in arms I served with, those who gave their last full measure or were wounded in this, America’s longest war, and the people of Afghanistan have been betrayed,’ he shared.

‘We have betrayed the memories of those lost and these people. This is the second time in 45 years that we have abandoned partners to the scourge of evil men hellbent on destruction.’

Tangen, whose brother also served in Afghanistan, described the current situation a ‘full blown humanitarian crisis’ and is calling on our nation’s leaders for change.   

‘This has to stop. We can no more commit our forces, blood, and treasure to simply leave hopeless so many. May God bless and protect those desperately trying to get out before the Taliban regains full power and control,’ he said. ‘This is now a full blown humanitarian crisis and the world will witness the brutality so many of us witnessed during our time in Afghanistan on full display.’  

Former United States Representative Denver Riggleman, who was deployed following the September 11 attacks, said he was 'struggling' as the situation in Afghanistan unfolded

Former United States Representative Denver Riggleman, who was deployed following the September 11 attacks, said he was ‘struggling’ as the situation in Afghanistan unfolded

Former United States Representative Denver Riggleman, who was deployed following the September 11 attacks, said on Sunday that he was ‘struggling’ as the situation in Afghanistan continued to unfold.

‘I deployed on Sep 21, 2001. So many lost in the Towers. So many brothers & sisters in arms lost,’ he wrote on Twitter. ‘When I first arrived, I researched what the Taliban did to women. I briefed the troops on it. Horrific images seared in my mind: executions, hangings, stonings. I’m struggling today.’

Several other Twitter users echoed his emotions.

‘My son served in Kandahar and with the help of a few soldiers he built a library at Kandahar Airfield and filled it with books from Operation Paperback. Dan died in 2016 and in these days of gut wrenching turmoil in Afghanistan I can’t seem to stop thinking about that library,’ shared Stephanie Keegan.

‘Question and thoughts please, what was the war in Afghanistan and Iraq for, did my Son sacrifice his life for nothing,’ questioned Lisa Billing, whose son was a British soldiers that fought alongside American troops.

‘He’s my hero but I’d do anything to have him here with me. Was it worth it (former UK Prime Minister) Tony Blair because you still have your Son and you wouldn’t let him go to war.’

Several military family members took to Twitter to express their concerns and frustration with the Biden Administration's decision

Several military family members took to Twitter to express their concerns and frustration with the Biden Administration’s decision

Others issued their support for our service men and women.

‘To all my fellow brothers and sisters in arms who served in Afghanistan, I hope you hold your heads high in what you did during your time there. Nothing about the current results should weigh heavily on your minds! You served with honor, and nothing will change that!’ Michael Hodges tweeted.  

‘I am no expert on international matters, but I do acknowledge that today is a devastating day for many with what’s happening in Afghanistan. As a spouse of a veteran, I just wanted to take a moment to thank our veterans that served,’ shared Kurt Thigpen.

Biden ordered about 6,000 troops to help evacuate US staff ‘and other allied personnel’ from Afghanistan as the Taliban continues to overtake the country. The Pentagon estimates approximately 30,000 people will need to be evacuated in this process.

The Taliban declared victory from the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday following a blistering advance across the country. 

Three stowaways are believed to have plunged to their deaths, with footage showing bodies falling from the underside of a hulking USAF transport jet as it climbed into the skies over the fallen city on Monday

Three stowaways are believed to have plunged to their deaths, with footage showing bodies falling from the underside of a hulking USAF transport jet as it climbed into the skies over the fallen city on Monday

Almost all major checkpoints in Kabul were under Taliban control by Monday morning and Afghanistan’s Civil Aviation Authority issued an advisory saying the ‘civilian side’ of the airport had been ‘closed until further notice’ and that the military controlled the airspace.  At least seven people have been killed at the airport as it was overwhelmed by desperate people hoping to escape on Monday morning. 

Experts and lawmakers have for months warned the Biden Administration that the takeover was exactly what would happen if they continued with the hasty retreat and entrusted the country to the Afghan National Army.

The president has defended the withdrawal of US troops and blamed his predecessor Donald Trump for a deal that left the warlords ‘in the strongest position militarily since 2001’. 

More than 2,300 Americans were killed and 20,000 wounded while fighting in Afghanistan, USA Today reported. The 20-year war is said to have cost the US approximately $2.26trillion.  

Biden announced plans to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan on Thursday.

Around 30,000 US personnel were in the country as of two weeks ago and, as of Sunday, 6,000 troops have been dispatched to ensure they return home.  

The Taliban declared victory from the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday following a blistering advance across the country. 

Late Sunday, the state department confirmed that all staff working at the US Embassy in Kabul had been evacuated to the nearby airport. 

Eight people have died at the Kabul airport where thousands of desperate Afghans have clambered onto moving military planes and US troops have fired warning shots into the air amid a chaotic scramble to flee the Taliban.

Three stowaways are believed to have plunged to their deaths, with harrowing footage showing their bodies falling from the underside of a hulking USAF transport jet as it climbed into the skies over the fallen city on Monday. 

Men climb over a wall into Hamid Karzai International Airport in scenes reminiscent of the chaos in Saigon in 1975

Men climb over a wall into Hamid Karzai International Airport in scenes reminiscent of the chaos in Saigon in 1975

Taliban officials said everyone would be allowed to return home from Kabul airport if they decide to stay in the country and promised civilians would not be harmed. The group previously said westerners would be allowed to leave the country but that Afghans would be barred from departing.

US troops are guarding the airport and have taken over air traffic control, but all non-military flights are grounded. Early Monday morning, flight-tracking data showed no immediate commercial flights over the country.

In the capital, a tense calm set in, with most people hiding in their homes as the Taliban deployed fighters at major intersections.

There were scattered reports of looting and armed men knocking on doors and gates, and there was less traffic than usual on eerily quiet streets. Fighters could be seen searching vehicles at one of the city’s main squares.

Many fear chaos, after the Taliban freed thousands of prisoners and the police simply melted away, or a return to the kind of brutal rule the Taliban imposed when it was last in power. 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told US senators Sunday morning that the sudden collapse of the Afghan government means terror groups like Al Qaeda could grow stronger in Afghanistan far sooner than the two years Congress had previously estimated it would take them to become a threat.

He conceded that the prediction also raised the possibility of a domestic attack in the US, or on one of its allies. Milley said up to 60,000 refugees could qualify for Special Immigrant Visas as a result of Iran’s collapse.

Experts and lawmakers have for months warned the Biden Administration that this was exactly what would happen if they continued with the hasty retreat and entrusted the country to the Afghan National Army. 

Biden’s calamitous surrender of Afghanistan and his ‘shameful’ silence since Kabul fell on Sunday has been widely condemned by media outlets across the globe. 

The president has failed to address the chaos publicly, except for a written statement on Saturday which blamed Donald Trump for an earlier deal which he says handed too much power to the Taliban. 

‘When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor… that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021, deadline on US forces,’ Biden wrote in the statement.

‘I faced a choice — follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’ forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict.’

The president remained holed up at Camp David on Monday after spending the weekend largely out of sight while Afghanistan crumbled into chaos, with a senior adviser only able to say he would address the nation ‘soon.’ 

The White House released an image of President Biden at Camp David as officials fend off growing criticism of his absence from Washington

The White House released an image of President Biden at Camp David as officials fend off growing criticism of his absence from Washington

With the United Nations Security Council and European ministers due to hold crisis meetings to address the rapid return of the Taliban, Biden and his officials kept a low profile amid mounting questions about their bungling departure from Afghanistan.

Email enquiries sent to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki over the weekend received an automated out-of-office response saying she would return on Aug. 22.

While US military planes flew in an out of Kabul airport to rescue American nationals, it was left to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to defend Biden’s decision for a rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan.

He said staying longer would not have changed the overall outcome but was vague about when the nation might hear from its commander in chief.

‘They can expect to hear from the president soon. He’s right now actively engaged with his national security team,’ he told Good Morning America.

‘He is working the situation hard.

‘He is focused on ensuring the mission which is to secure that airport and continue these evacuations that that mission continues and brought to a positive conclusion. He’s deeply engaged on it.

‘At the right point he will address the American people.’

In Washington, opponents of Biden’s decision to end America’s longest war, launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, said the chaos was caused by a failure of leadership.

Biden has faced rising domestic criticism after sticking to a plan, initiated by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, to end the US military mission by Aug. 31.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell blamed Biden for what he called a ‘shameful failure of American leadership’.

Former President Trump mocked Biden’s absence.

‘The outcome in Afghanistan would have been totally different if the Trump Administration had been in charge,’ he said in an emailed statement.

‘Who or what will Joe Biden surrender to next?

‘Someone should ask him, if they can find him.’ 

Biden’s son, Beau, served in the Iraq war. The now-president believed that Beau’s exposure to toxins while overseas may have contributed to his brain cancer, according to a 2020 report from Task & Purpose. Beau died in 2015 at age 46.

Biden has previously spoken out the impact of the war on Beau’s health. 

He said: ‘exposure to burn pits, in my view, I can’t prove it yet, he came back with stage four glioblastoma. Eighteen months he lived, knowing he was going to die.’  

Afghans crowd on to the apron at Kabul airport as they try to flee the country

Afghans crowd on to the apron at Kabul airport as they try to flee the country

Meanwhile, refugees have been massing at the borders on Monday as people desperately try to flee Afghanistan before the Taliban’s brutal rules are implemented, with pictures from the country’s border with Pakistan showing hundreds of people queuing in an attempt to leave.

‘Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the mujahideen. They have witnessed the fruits of their efforts and their sacrifices for 20 years,’ Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, told Al Jazeera TV. ‘Thanks to God, the war is over in the country.’ 

President Ghani fled the country on Sunday night as the insurgents encircled the capital – saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed – capping a military victory that saw them capture all cities in just 10 days.

In a Facebook post, Ghani said he had left the country to avoid clashes with the Taliban that would endanger millions of Kabul residents. Some social media users branded Ghani, who did not disclose his location, a coward for leaving them in chaos. Al Jazeera reported he had flown to Uzbekistan, citing his personal bodyguard.

‘The Taliban have won with the judgement of their swords and guns, and are now responsible for the honour, property and self-preservation of their countrymen,’ Ghani said after fleeing.

Taliban officials said they had received no reports of any clashes anywhere in the country: ‘The situation is peaceful,’ one official said. The Taliban controlled 90 percent of state buildings and fighters had been told to prevent any damage, the official added.





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