Yemenis sit in front of historic buildings in the old city of Sana’a. Aid delivery to starving Yemenis has improved, but the UN is struggling to secure funds for its programmes. Photograph: Yahya Arhab/EPA

Martin Griffiths claims chaos in region could enable re-emergence of extremist groups

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas: In February, Israel decided to confiscate €138 million in Palestinian Authority tax revenues paid annually to families. Photograph: EPA/STR

Cost-cutting move due to Palestinian tariff losses in Israel deemed mainly symbolic

Smoke billows above buildings during a reported air strike by pro-regime forces on the town of Hish in Syria’s Idlib province on August 19th, 2019. Photograph: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP

Three killed as Moscow and Damascus claim vehicles en route to aid jihadis and rebels

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam meets   Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei  in Tehran.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in talks with Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam

Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul accused the authorities of holding them in solitary confinement, sexual assault and administering beatings and electric shocks. Photograph: Reuters

Loujain al-Hathloul rejected freedom in return for recording statement, says brother

Firefighters extinguish a fire following clashes between pro-government forces and separatists in the Mansoura district of  Aden, Yemen on Sunday. Photograph: Nabil Hasan/AFP/Getty Images

Seizure of Aden by separatists deepens divisions between chief regional partners

Deputy special adviser to the UN secretary general on Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and  Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades. Photograph: Cypriot Press Office

Amid tensions over gas drilling, Greek and Turkish sides agree to September UN talks

 Kurdish YPG militiamen taking part in a military parade in Qamishli, Syria, on March 28th. Turkey insists the YPG is a threat as it is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Photograph: Rodi Said/Reuters

Buffer zone to separate Turkish and US-backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria

 An Iranian Revolutionary Guard jet boat sails around a seized tanker in Bandar Abbas, southern Iran, last month. Photograph: Hasan Shirvani/EPA

Analysis: UAE has maintained relations with Iran despite Saudi hostility to Tehran

 Huda al-Badri (30) poses behind the steering wheel of a car after Saudi Arabia eased its restrictions on women drivers in 2018. Photograph: Ahmed Yosri/EPA

Reforms will heap pressure on crown prince to release jailed female human rights activists

 A screen grab from an undated video made available by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of Hamza bin Laden, the son of late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Photograph:  EPA/CIA handout

Reported death of Osama bin Laden’s son will be a brief PR boost for the US

Palestinian men pile bags of flour outside an aid distribution centre run by Unrwa in the central Gaza Strip refugee camp of Bureij, on Wednesday. Photograph: Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

Analysis: Unwra provides essential aid and services for more than five million refugees

Helga Schmid (front left) of the European Union External Action Service with Abbas Araghchi (front right), political deputy at the ministry of foreign affairs of Iran, at the Palais Coburg in Vienna. Photograph: Alex Halada

Tensions high in wake of US sanctions and seizures of oil tankers

Decaying hotel buildings stand beyond a makeshift barrier in Varosha, Famagusta. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Cypriot government says Varosha proposal violates UN Security Council resolutions

US president Donald Trump (right) meets with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC in March 2018. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty/File

More than 500 US soldiers, airmen returning to base at invitation of King Salman

Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif:  says the Royal Marine’s seizure of Grace 1 is “piracy”.  Photograph: Manaure Quintero/Reuters

Show of strength in taking tanker comes with Tehran willingness to ratify protocol

 The US government has imposed sanctions on three top Hizbullah leaders over reported connection with Iran’s revolutionary guards. Photograph: EPA/Nabil Mounzer

Analysis: Washington’s goal is to shrink Iranian oil exports to zero and to isolate and deny Iran access to international trade

Turkish drilling ship Yavuz: set to start work off the  coast of Cyprus within the country’s exclusive economic zone, in violation of international law. Photograph: Bulent Kilic/AFP

Illegal oil and gas explorations continue as Ankara pays little heed to threat of sanctions

Members of the Syrian Civil Defence (White Helmets) and civilians carry away the  wounded following a reported regime air strike on the town of Ariha, in the southern outskirts of Syria’s Idlib province. Photograph: Getty

Restive state faces prospect of being fractured into fiefdoms ruled by jihadi warlords

Turkish ship Yavuz anchored off Cyprus’s east coast in preparation for drilling. Photograph: Murad Sezer/Reuters

Erdogan vows to protect Turkish Cypriot rights and to continue drilling

 Emirati forces – trained recruits of the Yemeni army – perform combat training in Yemen in 2017. Photograph: Najeeb Almahboobi/EPA

Emirati troops to leave Hodeidah port amid disagreement with Saudis over devastating war

Women and children who had fled Islamic State’s last areas of control at a camp in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria. Photograph: Ivor Prickett/New York Times

Human Rights Watch calls on Baghdad to ensure humane treatment of detainees

Syrian refugees remove a corrugated metal as they dismantle their shelters at the Lebanese border town of Arsal. Photograph: Reuters/Hassan Abdallah

Economic crises in all three countries, plus chronic shortfalls in donor funding, are fuelling resentment among citizens with incr(...)

Drilling vessel Yavuz: set to arrive off the eastern coast of Cyprus to drill for gas. Photograph: Lefteris Pitarakis

Ankara project conducted over ‘median line’ could bring fines and imprisonment

Amphorae at the shipwreck site off the coast of Protaras, Cyprus, on Wednesday. Photograph: Spyros Spyrou/via Reuters

Wooden merchant ship found near Protaras transported cargo between Syria and Turkey

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a meeting with Iranian judiciary officials in Tehran, Iran, on Wednesday. Photograph: Iran government handout/EPA

US sanctions inflaming tensions without punishing those responsible, say experts

Confiscated tusks are held at a forensics laboratory of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Ashland, Oregon. Photograph: Galen Rowell/Corbis via Getty Images

Oregon Letter: From Russian mob caviar to ivory, pelts, skins, shells, bones and feather

 Israeli police  take up position in the village of Halhoul in the West Bank following  clashes with Palestinians protesting  against the  US economic conference. Photograph:  Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA

Palestinians boycotting event, while Israelis not invited

President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades: has expressed “utmost satisfaction”with the EU’s  supportive stance. Photograph: Julian Warnand

European Council poised to deter Ankara from ‘unlawful act’ in territorial waters

A girl holds a photograph of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi during a symbolic funeral ceremony on June 18th at Fatih mosque in Istanbul. Thousands joined in prayer in the Turkish capital for Morsi, who died after collapsing in a Cairo court. Photograph: Getty Images

Former president reportedly deprived of medication and treatment for medical conditions

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the ultimate arbiter in Iran’s system of governance. Photograph: Official Khamenei website/Handout via Reurters

Statement comes in response to calls from US president for talks on new nuclear deal

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh in  October 2018. Photograph: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

Riyadh extends invitation to Qatar after two years of tension for talks on oil tanker assault

A Palestinian loads a cart with aid food provided by the UN’s World Food Programme and its agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, in the Gaza Strip’s al-Shati refugee camp. Photograph: Mohammed Abed

Trump envoy says Unrwa a ‘bandaid’ and seeks shift to humanitarian bodies and hosts

President Donald Trump during a surprise visit to at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq last year. Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times

Premier says Iraq does not have the option of distancing itself from volatile situation

Prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh (centre)  told his  cabinet that Palestinians “do not trade our national rights for money”. Photograph: Alaa Badarneh/EPA

Trump administration’s carrot for secret peace deal met with widespread criticism

An F/A-18E Super Hornet is launched from the flight deck of the US Navy  aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea on Thursday. Handout photograph: Reuters

US security advisor John Bolton seen as chief culprit in escalating US-Iran tensions

Sener Levent, editor of Turkish-language daily newspaper Afrika, with his reporter Ali Osman Tabak, with supporters outside a north Nicosia court, after being acquitted for charges of insulting and defaming Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photograph: Birol Bebek/AFP/Getty Images

Judge rules cartoon about Turkish president was satire and ‘did not constitute an insult’

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan who spoke of ‘increasing attempts to violate our rights in the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean’, suggesting a wish to assert Turkish rights in Greece as well as in Cyprus

EU and US express concern at drilling as Turkey plans to send second ship

Houthi  forces withdrawing from Saleef port in Hodeidah province, Yemen.  Photograph: Abduljabbar Zeyad/Reuters

Saudis claim some rebels remain behind in coast guard uniforms

Syrians drive with their belongings along the main Damascus-Aleppo highway near the town of Saraqib in Syria’s jihadist-held Idlib province on May 9th, 2019. Photograph: Anas al-Dyab

UN agencies say 150,000 civilians displaced in Islamic State and Tahrir al-Sham enclave

Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi in conversation with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in Baghdad. Photograph: AFP/Getty

US secretary of state arrives in Baghdad as naval task force sets sail for restive region

Hanaa Ahmad Ali Bahr, a malnourished girl, sits on her father’s lap in a shanty town in Hodeidah in war-torn Yemen. Photograph: Abduljabbar Zeyad

‘Human development has not just been interrupted. It has been reversed’

Ionas Nicolaou speaking to media at the presidential palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, after he resigned as justice minister over the failure of  police  to properly investigate missing person cases. Photograph: EPA/Katia Christodoulou

Crimes of island’s first serial killer went undetected for nearly three years as he targeted mainly foreign women

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border in 2014. File photograph: Rodi Said/Reuters

Women abducted by terror group can return to Yazidi community but children of Isis fighters barred

An undated screengrab taken from video released by Islamic State-linked Al-Furqan media shows the chief of  Islamic State,   Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,  for the first time in five years  in an undisclosed location. Screengrab: AFP/Getty

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s group has endured many defeats while gaining adherents around world

Greek Cypriot army officer Nicos Metaxas: has  allegedly confessed to dumping multiple  bodies. Photograph: Facebook page of Nicos Metaxas

Accusations of slack police inquiries as Nicos Metaxas charged with multiple murders

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: Since January, 104 people have been executed, compared to 148 during the whole of 2018, and detentions have multiplied. Photograph: Bandar al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace

Amnesty condemns Riyadh executions as evidence of ‘callous disregard for human life’

A gas flare on an oil production platform beside a national flag in Iran: exports have fallen to a million barrels per day. Photograph: Raheb Homavandi

Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi set to benefit from US move to make Tehran capitulate

Performers at the opening of the Al-Sham International Arabian Horse Festival in Damascus this week. Photograph: Youssef Badawi/EPA

Damascus Letter: The job will be enormous and expensive, and may increase resentment

Aftermath of an overnight rocket attack, on the Libyan capital of Tripoli on April 17th. Khalifa Haftar has launched an offensive to take the city. Photograph:  Mahmud Turkia/AFP

US decision will aid Khalifa Haftar’s attack on UN-recognised government in Tripoli

Children receive treatment after a gas attack on al-Shifunieh village, eastern Ghouta, Syria, on  February 25th, 2018. The picture was part of a  story that has won  second prize in the Spot News - Stories category in the World Press Photo 2019 Contest. Photograph: Mohammed Badra/EPA

Efforts focus on constitutional commission featuring government and opposition groups

Syrians queue to fill their car with petrol in Damascus. Photograph: Louai Beshara/AFP

Damascenes are starting to feel safer but daily life is filled with trials and tribulations

People walk near the recently reopened Nassib border post in  Deraa province, at the Syrian-Jordanian border south of Damascus Photograph: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images

The city where Syria’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising began is battered but still functioning

Khalid Ibn al-Walid mosque: A Unesco world heritage site, the mosque has been restored with donations from Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov.  Photograph: Michael Jansen

Chechnya funds mosque project as US, EU give Homs aid for food not rebuilding

Yemeni protesters hold placards during a demonstration outside the United Nations office to lift the siege on the port of Hodeida, in the capital Sana’a. Photograph: Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images

More than 109,000 cases reported in three months as Saudi-led war exacerbates crisis

Although half of Islamic State’s foreign recruits may have been killed in action, survivors have dispersed and sprung up across the globe. Photograph: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty

Since it entered the Syrian conflict, Isis has recruited an estimated 100,000 fighters

Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, who is alleged to have suffered electric shocks, beatings, waterboarding and sexual harassment during detention. Photograph: Reuters

Prosecutors accuse the women of initiating ‘criminal’ contacts to share information

Egypt’s  Sheikh al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb:  called for a revamp of Muslim attitudes towards women. Photograph: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

Religious leader brands polygamy a distortion of the Koran and an injustice to women

Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces who are opposing Isis fighters in the village of Baghouz. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Clashes continuing as group of Isis fighters confined to pocket still resisting, says SDF

Al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria: Ireland has set a pragmatic example to other countries by agreeing to repatriate Lisa Smith who is currently there.  Photograph: Issam Abdallah/Reuters

Loyalty and circumstance blinded many to Isis’s atrocities. Such people need help

Close ties: Iraq’s prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi  with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in Baghdad. Photograph: EPA/Ahmed Jalil

Agreements reinforce the close connections between the two majority Shia countries

Two unnamed Saudi sisters, aged 18 and 20, stand in front of a view of the building which houses the local Saudi consulate in Hong Kong on February 22nd. Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty

UN human rights commissioner voices concern over arrest and detention of peaceful activists

A woman carries her injured child after leaving Islamic State’s last holdout of Baghouz, Syria. Photograph: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

US survey failed to prepare ground forces for influx from Islamic State enclave in Syria

Fatima Hadi, a 12-year-old displaced Yemeni girl suffering from acute malnutrition, is treated at a hospital in Yemen’s northwestern Hajjah province. Photograph:   Essa Ahmed / AFP

60,000 people have been killed, and 85,000 children under 5 have died from starvation

 German chancellor Angela Merkel with Saudi King Salman bin Abdelaziz Al Saud  in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Photograph: EPA/Guido Bergmann

Leaders urged to forge a common strategy on terrorism and to co-operate on trade and migration

Saudi Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud: well-versed in Washington’s ways. Photograph: Fayez Nureldine/AFP

Reema bint Bandar takes role amid lingering strains over Khashoggi murder in Istanbul

Women and children who fled the Islamic State  group’s last embattled holdout of Baghouz wait to evacuate the area in Syria’s northern Deir Ezzor province, last Friday.  Photograph: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images

After first saying he was pulling out all US troops, Trump has bowed to pressure

Yemeni children  wait for food rations  in Sana’a, Yemen. ‘The children of Yemen have suffered far too long, living in conditions no human being should ever have to bear.’ Photograph: Yahya Arhab/EPA

Houthi rebels agree to withdraw from Hodeida in deal with Saudi-backed government

Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan and Saudi Arabia’s  prince Mohammed bin Salman  in Islamabad,  February 18th. Photograph: Press handout via Reuters

First stop Islamabad gives royal welcome as prince frees 2,100 Pakistanis in Saudi jails

Iran’s  Hassan Rouhani,  Russia’s Vladimir Putin  and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan  at a trilateral meeting about Syria in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on February 14th. Photograph: Sergei Chirikov

Moscow, Tehran and Ankara find no accord at Sochi summit on defeating Idlib jihadis

 Members of Iranian revolutionary guards corps during a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution at the Azadi (Freedom) square in Tehran on Sunday. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

Clerics must recognise need to acknowledge aspirations of Iranians born after revolution

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters stand guard as a convoy of trucks transports civilians fleeing the battered Islamic State-held holdout of Baghouz in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor on Monday. Photograph: Fadel Senna/AFP

Despite air raids, fighters from jihadi bastion in Kurdish-controlled area reclaim positions

US resident Donald Trump at a rally at Al-Asad Airbase in Iraq in December. Photograph: Al Drago/New York Times

Baghdad condemns US president’s plans to expand military in Iraq to ‘watch’ Iran

Pope Francis (R) shakes hands with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan  in the UAE capital. Photograph: Vatican media/AFP/Getty Images

Amid calls to press for peace in Yemen, the pontiff met with 600 religious figures in UAE

Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri  takes a selfie with journalists at the Presidential Palace in east Beirut, Lebanon, on Thursday.  Photograph: Wael Hamzeh

France, along with US and other powers, had exerted pressure on prime minister Hariri

The government of Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah  has submitted its resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas. Photograph: EPA/Abed  Al Hashlamoun

President begins consulations to form new government

France’s president Emmanuel Macron, Cyprus’s president Nicos Anastasiades and Greece’s prime minister Alexis Tsipras talk in Nicosia. Photograph: Yiannis Kourtoglou

Grouping of seven EU Mediterranean states unhappy at burden of hosting migrants

 Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte at European Council in Brussels in June, 2018. Photograph: EPA/ Julien Warnand

Brexit and climate change also on agenda for seven states at ‘Club Med’ meeting in Cyprus

Construction workers at the site of a school funded by the US United States Agency for International Development  in the Palestinian village of Al-Jabaa, 15km  southwest of Bethlehem. Photograph:  Hazem Bader/AFP

Violence could escalate as Palestinian Authority faces bankruptcy

 Fortified Kawkaban town in  Al-Mahwit province in Yemen: the ancient site was destroyed entirely.   Photograph:  DEA/C Dani/I Jeske/De Agostini/Getty

Saudi-led coalition, Houthi rebels and jihadi groups laying waste millenniums of heritage

Hakeem al-Araibi, a former Bahrain national team footballer with refugee status in Australia, is escorted by immigration police to a court in Bangkok on December 11th, 2018. Photograph: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP

Human Rights Watch voices extradition fears on country of 4,000 political prisoners

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters  using an armoured vehicle provided by the Turkish army, near the town of Tal Hajar in Aleppo’s province, a few kilometres from areas controlled by a Kurdish-led coalition. Phoograph: Bakr Alkasem/AFP/ Getty Images

Kurds also against proposed development along the Syrian-Turkish border

A busy street in the northern city of Idlib, Syria’s mostly rebel-held province. Photograph:   Muhammad Haj Kadour / AFP

Idlib could become a base for the infiltration of jihadis into the region and Europe

Asylum seeker Rahaf al-Qunun has renounced Islam and could face a charge of apostasy, which, under Saudi law, is punishable by death. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Male guardianship treats women as lifelong minors

A banner depicting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Douma: Unless Syria recovers, millions of Syrian refugees will stay in host countries. Photograph: Marko Djurica

Saudis, UAE and Egypt willing to embrace Assad if it curbs influence of Iran and Turkey

Syrian civilians cross from rebel-held areas in Idlib province into regime-held territories on December 27th, 2018. Photograph:  George Ourfalian/ AFP/Getty

Shelling persists between insurgents and army as Tahrir al-Sham holds most of Idlib

A Palestinian woman and her child  in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on December 30th.  Photograph: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Trump administration has cut $300m funding, reducing agency’s budget by a third

President Donald Trump during an unannounced trip at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times

Turkey appears determined to boost relations with Moscow as US becomes unreliable

A flag depicting Abdullah Öcalan, founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Photograph: Mauricio Lima/The New York Times

Move increases likelihood of Turkish invasion of the border zone ruled by Kurds

A convoy of US army troops and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) Kurdish militia patrol near al-Ghanamya village  at the Syrian-Turkish border, in April 2017. Photograph: Youssef Rabie Youssef/EPA

As well as the enduring Isis threat, the power dynamics in Syria are finely balanced

Shots are fired from a vehicle during heavy fighting between the Yemeni government and Houthis in Hodeidah, Yemen. Image: Arab 24/via Reuters

Overall deal appears to have the support of outside powers involved in the war

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan: said Ankara would “in a few days” clear Syrian Kurdish fighters from northern Syria. Photograph: Murat Kula

US alarmed by Erdogan announcement but silent on how its 2,200 troops in field will act

Syrians in Beirut, Lebanon, preparing to return to their homeland. Photograph: Jamal Saidi/Reuters

Some neighbouring host countries are applying pressure on refugees to leave

A  Yemeni woman holds a placard at an anti-war rally in front of the UN offices in Sana’a. Photograph: Yahya Arhab

Expectation that 600 captives held since start of 3½-year civil war in Yemen will be freed

Both Hadi al-Amiri, above, and his nominee are backed by Tehran, while Muqtada al-Sadr is a nationalist who opposes foreign interference in Iraq. Photograph: Khalid al-Mousily/File Photo/Reuters

Six months after elections, appointment of an interior minister is bone of contention

Then US president George HW Bush talking to supporters in St Louis in October 1992. Photograph: Peter Newcomb/AFP/Getty Images

Regional rulers have praised the former US president but he has a controversial legacy

This grab from a video shows Syrian workers of a Raqqa group carrying human remains at the site of a mass grave believed to contain the bodies of civilians and Islamic State militants in Raqqa. Photograph: AP Photo

Amnesty says US-led coalition that did most of the bombing did not try to protect civilians

Mohamed bin Salman: since the advent of the Trump administration, bin Salman has been charged with making deals under the table with Israel and the US with the aim of removing Palestine and Palestinians from the world map. Photograph: Getty Images

The Khashoggi murder has focused existing Arab anti-Saudi antagonism on Mohamed bin Salman

Tunisian women hold up saws and signs showing pictures of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with a caption below reading in Arabic “no welcome, Tunisians against the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince to Tunisia”, during an anti-Saudi Crown Prince protest  in the capital, Tunis on November 27th Photograph:  Fethi Belaid/ AFP/Getty

Mohammed bin Salman will soon travel to Argentina for G20 summit

US president Donald Trump and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman at a meeting in Riyadh in May 2017. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

US president’s refusal to blame MBS for Khashoggi killing is bad news for Middle East

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