The Syria Trials/
S2E3: Inside Branch 335


Spring 2011. Following the wave of peaceful protests that has swept across the Middle East and North Africa, revolution has now come to Syria. The activists tell us what it was like to finally be able to shout out loud for their rights. Fritz hears about these joyful days - and how the regime quickly reacted with violence. General al-Halabi was the Head of General Intelligence Branch 335 when the uprising began. How did his branch respond to the growing protests?

The Syria Trials is a 75 Podcast production. This episode is hosted by Fritz Streiff, and produced by Sasha Edye-Lindner, with research and editorial support from Mais Katt. The voiceovers were provided by Cyril Nehmé and Muhammad Bakri. It was mixed by Tobias Withers.

Support for our podcast comes from German Federal Foreign Office funds that are provided by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen IFA’s Zivik Funding Programme.

If you’d like to find out more about our podcast, head to our website Here you'll find an archive of all our episodes with their transcripts, as well as our other productions.

Episode Transcript

Fritz Streiff: In early 2011, as protests swept across the Middle East and North Africa, many Syrians were waiting to see if a revolution would also rise up in their country. Diana Khayyata was one of them. She was living in Syria's most populated city, Aleppo, the economic hub in the north of the country. 

Diana Khayyata: Before mentioning the revolution, one important thing happened with me that got me to naturally become an activist, which is because of my divorce situation and because the man has way more rights than women in Syria and the Constitution. What broke me literally inside is that he decided to take away my children from me. I am divorced with nothing with me, even a personality. And that's very crucial and essential, in order for you to lead a path. You need to have a voice. You need to have analytical thinking. You need to have courage, power, etc… I just felt that I'm not strong. Until I had someone that came to me and said, Diana now you are weak. Empower yourself and then bring back your children. So that was my train track. Then the revolution happened and naturally I will become an activist because there is no fairness in the law between women and men in Syria. When I heard about the revolution and when I heard people protesting in the streets, that was my first go to. Shouting in one voice for your legal rights with people on the ground. That's the first step in my personal journey to obtain a character, to have a voice to speak with. 

Fritz Streiff: This is The Syria Trials Season Two, The Disappearing General. I'm your host, Fritz Streiff, and this is Episode Three: Inside Branch 335. Please be aware that this episode contains descriptions of violence and torture. Please take care while listening. 

Kenan Khadaj was at the other end of the country to Diana in Suweida, the hometown of Brigadier General Khaled al-Halabi. 

Kenan Khadaj: At the beginning of the revolution, the whole ideology of the revolution was peaceful protest. We were going to do what the Tunisian people did, what the Egyptian did, we were going to try to overthrow this regime peacefully, make a safe transition to democracy and build a safer and less corrupt government. 

Diana Khayyata: It's an amazing feeling. It's… sorry, I'm getting emotional, but it's really an amazing feeling to just feel liberated, to feel everyone speaking one voice, demanding one thing, which is dignity and justice for all. It's really amazing and it's also scary at the same time. 

Fritz Streiff: Revolutionary sentiment was also building in Raqqa, the city in the northeast of Syria, where Halabi had been Head of State Security since 2009. Those eager to join the revolution began to coordinate like schoolteacher, Thaer Dandoush. 

Thaer Dandoush VO: The first protest took place on March the 25th, 2011, near Al-Firdous mosque. I was working in a bridal shop, which was located across the street from the mosque. I was standing in front of the shop store, when all of these young people came out of the mosque. One brave person, may he rest in peace, Abu Yam Mohammad Al-Shalash, was standing outside the mosque's door and started shouting out, protesting. When he shouted, I cannot describe the feeling that came over me. I was ecstatic, trembling, shivering. It was an amazing and incredible feeling, to be honest. During the first protest, I just walked with the people who were shouting. I thought I would shout, but I couldn't. I was frozen. But the important thing was that I started moving. 

Fritz Streiff: Activist Abdallah also remembers the first demonstration in Raqqa. 

How did that feel? What was the feeling like, the atmosphere in the city?

Abdallah: You know… 

Fritz Streiff: I see you smiling.

Abdallah: Yeah, because you cannot believe at that time that people have this power to go. 

Fritz Streiff: So a lot of people came?

Abdallah: No, this is what make me laughing. It's like 20, 25. And then we start to coordinate a lot, encourage the people a lot. Write some posters about our rights. We have to change. We have to rethink about our future. If not you, for your children, stuff like this. After that, when you see the demonstrations, they become bigger and bigger. 100, 200. And after that, I choose the place of the demonstration. We will go from this place at that time. 

Fritz Streiff: Do you remember a specific protest for some reason? 

Abdallah: Yes. I told my friends, we have to go to do demonstration very close to those branches, amen daula. This the first time I go close to their branches. The intelligence branches. And they told me it’s like dangerous, but we have to do it. It's like to tell the people and do demonstration really close to them and we don't scared, so the people becomes like more open to the revolution and support the revolution. 

Fritz Streiff: What was that like? 

Abdallah:  I have one brother. At the time he couldn't run a lot. I'm a good runner. I run good. So I invited 20 or 25 person. All of them is good build for running because we expect that the intelligence, they come directly and trying to arrest us. And also I invite Amer, my friend. And he told me Abdallah, I just get out from the jail. I told him, okay, it's like just 5 minutes. And we’ll run away. So the demonstration, when we start. My friends start to film just 13 seconds. 13. And the police, they came and arrested my brother and my friend, who told me I just get out from the jail. Just 13 seconds. At that time, the first time they shoot. 

Fritz Streiff: In the air?

Abdallah: No, actually, they shoot because I ran and there was a general he said, he told his officers and soldiers, bring me that guy. So I run and they followed me to empty place and start shooting. The first time that they shoot directly.


Fritz Streiff: They hit you?

Abdallah: No. They don't catch me. 

Kenan Khadaj: With the beginning, the regime faced us with extreme force. He would send his militias, he would send the army, he would start using live ammunition against normal protesters. And a lot of massacres happened. And I remember that we used to say, like the main reason why the revolution reached every city in Syria - because of the regime itself. The brutality of the regime, has caused that every single person in Syria didn't want anything to do with it. And nobody wanted to stay silent against that brutality. If I'm remembering correctly, by the year 2012, the protests have reached every city in Syria. 

Diana Khayyata: He reacted violently. At the beginning, it was rubber bullets and then tear gas. And the arresting, of course, and arresting violently, like with the electric taser. 

Fritz Streiff: The reach and power of the Syrian intelligence services didn't diminish as the revolution took hold of the entire country. If anything, the powers were increased, as the Assad regime attempted to gain a handle of the protests. Lab technician and activist Muhammad. 

Muhammad VO: The presence of intelligence services became more noticeable in the streets, particularly at night, especially since protest announcements were being shared on Facebook. And if there was a scheduled protest at a specific time, the entire street would be filled with security personnel, whether it was the police, state security, political security or military security. 

Fritz Streiff: All the demonstrators were taking precautions to avoid being caught by the intelligence services. Muhammed had even thought that he had an extra layer of protection. In early 2011, as protests were gaining ground in Raqqa, he had in fact had a personal meeting with al-Halabi, at State Security Branch 335.

Muhammad VO: On Facebook pages linked to the regime, they started publishing the names of the infiltrators as they used to call us in Raqqa. My name was one of them. It said that I, Muhammad, an employee at the blood bank, was inciting against the regime and calling for protests. 

Fritz Streiff: Muhammed’s uncle was a member of the Ba’ath Party, the only party allowed in Syria. He was seen as someone loyal to the party and to the regime. He asked to meet with Muhammed.

Muhammad VO: He came and picked me up in his car. He said he was taking me to see Khaled al-Halabi, his friend. I asked who Khaled al-Halabi was and he told me that he is the director of the state security in the region. We entered his office and he welcomed us warmly, saying, Welcome, welcome, welcome Abu Kinan. That's my uncle's name. He said, This is my nephew, Muhammed. I mentioned him to you before. They engaged in some casual conversation, talking about various topics and some mutual friends. Halabi asked, What would you like to drink? We said that we would like to have coffee. Halabi then asked if I had any issues with anyone. I told him no, by God, I don't have any problems with anyone. He probed further, asking me if I had participated in any protests. I replied, No. Surely I wouldn't come to a State Security Branch and admit to joining a protest, especially when I am here with my uncle, who is your friend? He expressed disbelief, seeing that it was unlikely that my name would have been mentioned unless someone had filed a report or made accusations against me. He insisted that something must be wrong. He wanted to know what my intentions were. Did I have revolutionary aspirations? I assured them I didn't want to do anything like that. 

Fritz Streiff: Our editor and researcher Mais interviewed Muhammed. Producer Sasha is voicing her words here. 

Mais VO: How did you feel about him when you met him at that time? What were your impressions of his personality?

Muhammad VO: I absolutely disliked his personality.

Mais VO: Can you explain why? 

Muhammad VO: I mean, you know, when you sense that someone doesn't like you? He was very arrogant in his speech saying things like, we have nothing on you, in our branch there is nothing against you. His appearance conveyed a sense of seriousness. He had a slight frown. He was average height. Just like the majority of Syrian people. But as a person, he commanded respect. Before you even spoke to him, you could sense his authority as a security officer. 

Fritz Streiff: Muhammad left Branch 335 that day knowing he had to act cautiously, but thinking he enjoyed some level of protection from the security services. 

Muhammad VO: If Khaled al-Halabi is a friend of my uncle’s, that's a good connection to have. Friendship with someone in the security field can be beneficial. He assured me that everything is fine and I have nothing to worry about. But even if the Head of the Security Branch himself said this to me, it doesn't mean I'm truly safe. After a month, I was arrested. And by who? The state security. 

Fritz Streiff: Muhammed had finished his shift at the blood bank around 3:00 in the afternoon. He was standing outside when a jeep pulled up beside him. There were four men inside. 

Muhammad VO: They asked for my identification, so I showed it to them. Then the two men in the back grabbed me and shoved me in the boot of the car. I had no idea who they were or where they were taking me. The car stopped. Then they instructed me to walk with my hands tied. My watch, mobile phone, wallet and personal documents were confiscated. They blindfolded me. They led me to a room where I could only partially see through the corners of my eyes.

Do you want to plot against Bashar al Assad, Muhammed? They shouted. I stayed silent. They made baseless accusations about me and my family using vulgar language and insulting remarks. Muhammad, acting alone, wants to overthrow the regime? How weak do you think the regime is? I told them I want nothing, Sir. I was just doing my job. You came and arrested me. You claim that I want to overthrow the regime? I asked. Where did you hear that? Where have I ever expressed such intentions? Someone must have fed your false information.

They started hitting me, slapping and kicking me. They forced me to lie on my stomach and tightly tied my legs with a belt. My hands were bound behind my back. They continued to hit me repeatedly on my back, buttocks, thighs and calves. Will you confess? They demanded. They kept on increasing the violence. I told them, Enough. Just write down whatever you want. 

Fritz Streiff: After being transferred to the Criminal Security Branch, Muhammed was released after around a month, but he was arrested again a month or so later. He was detained and tortured for eight days at Branch 335. 

Abdullah al Khalaf was another protester arrested in 2011 and taken to State Security Branch 335.

Abdullah al Khalaf VO: I participated in the second or third protest in Raqqa on the 22nd of April 2011. It was named the Great Friday. The police were present and I was arrested alongside my brother. They took us to the State Security Branch. Each of us was taken out alone to the branch chief. I was blindfolded. I could not see a thing. I knew this person was the head of the branch. They called him Abu Saleh, but his name was Khaled al-Halabi. I do not remember very much about that moment, but he asked me questions about why I had joined the protest. It became physically violent. They threw me on the ground, raised my legs and shouted insults at me, my family, our cause. He was the one throwing out insults. I'm not sure if he was the one doing the beating since I was blindfolded.

Fritz Streiff: Schoolteacher Thaer suffered horrific treatment at Branch 335.

Thaer Dandoush VO: There were two occasions when I was at the State Security Branch, and they put me on the flying carpet. 

Fritz Streiff: Remember the flying carpet, or bsat al-reeh, is a wooden board that detainees would be strapped to. The board is then folded in the middle, causing awful pain to the person on it. 

Thaer Dandoush VO: On one occasion when they started electrocuting me, I do not know for sure, but I think I was in the room of the branch manager. I was blindfolded and could not see anything at all. I could only hear voices.

Fritz Streiff: It seems from the accounts of those who were detained and tortured in 335, that significant and serious abuses occurred within Halabi’s Branch, under his watch. Whether Halimi himself was implicated in the actual torture is more difficult to know. 

Muhammad VO: Security personnel don't act independently. They require the approval of their superiors. There is no active security element without the commander's consent or authorisation. When they arrested me the first time, it was impossible for Khaled al-Halabi not to know about it. During my second arrest, it took my family about a month and a half to find out where I was. How come Halabi didn't communicate with my uncle where I was?

Fritz Streiff: So where exactly does his criminal responsibility lie? CIJA director Nerma Jelacic, explains how the regime responded to the growing protests and Halabi’s role in all of this. 

Nerma Jelacic: So when first the regime tried to quash the protests, with the use of some force and just using the existing apparatus, they were dissatisfied with the communication, or lack of communication between military and different security intelligence departments. So it was decided to set up the CCMC, the Central Crisis Management Cell, which would report directly to the President. And then he would have to approve the recommendations of the CCMC down to the governorates. And then as the protests continued spreading, Damascus continued trying to strengthen the structures that they were putting in place to quash it. 

Fritz Streiff: These structures included the creation of security committees. 

Nerma Jelacic: So the security committees were ordered to be established in each of the governorates somewhere around Autumn 2011. The security committees would have heads of the different security intelligence departments, military representative, Ba’ath Party representative, and they would be in charge of coordinating the response within the governorate and writing daily reports up to the CCMC, or to the head of the branch. It depends on what type of the report it is. So they would all have to be present, either they or their deputies. But in terms of the individual criminal responsibility of this individual of Halabi, it would have to be within the time frame when he was in charge of the General Intelligence Department, and within the areas of work that he would influence. Right. So you wouldn't be able to hold him responsible for what the military did or the security manning the checkpoints did. But what happens to the person when they are picked up at the checkpoint or in a house raid by the military and taken to the GID?

Fritz Streiff: GID, meaning General Intelligence Directorate or Department, which was the intelligence service Halabi was head of.

Nerma Jelacic: Then, he is responsible because he's part of that infrastructure. 

Fritz Streiff: Lawyer Steve Kostas.

Steve Kostas: So there would be orders from Damascus. But each of the governorates or each of the officials in the governorates had to decide about how they would implement those orders and whether that meant that they were going to arrest and torture peaceful demonstrators or not. And Halabi was at the centre of taking those decisions in Raqqa. So we see in some locations in the Raqqa governorate that some officials in some of the outlying areas did not want to apply those policies in a particularly harsh way. And so there were fewer arrests or fewer torture in some outlying areas. But in Raqqa itself, in the city itself, they were applied in a very harsh way and there, so roadblocks set up, patrols of State Security and Criminal Security Branch officials that would go around the town and everyone knew to fear them. 

Fritz Streiff: Bill Wiley, another one of the directors at CIJA, doesn't mince his words when it comes to what he thinks regarding Halabi’s criminal responsibility. 

Bill Wiley: Well, the key characteristic is he's a murder. Appreciate he hasn't been charged and convicted yet, but I can assure your listeners that the evidence is overwhelming in this case. A great many people were victimised and indeed killed in his facility, and the facility wasn't that large, relatively small branch. We know that the interrogation rooms were within earshot of his office. So when people are being filled in and abused in myriad ways, we have witnesses that can testify that the screams, crying, would bounce down the corridor and reach his office. 

Steve Kostas: The additional sort of information that we have indicates that, you know, all of the types of torture that we've seen in Syrian detention were used in Raqqa and in Branch 335 or in Halabi’s branch as well. So beating the feet, the soles of the feet, the flying carpet where you're strapped to a hinged board and the board is folded to put pressure on your spine, hung from your wrists, from the ceiling so that you're barely touching the ground and then beaten, forced nudity, you know, quite a range of torture.

Fritz Streiff: As 2011 wore on, the regime had its hands and prisons full of dissenting protesters, and so it employed a myriad of tactics in an attempt to stop them. Charles Lister is a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC. He directs their Syria and Countering Terrorism and Extremism Programs. 

Charles Lister: There's also some history here in terms of the regime's willingness to infiltrate and manipulate and weaponise jihadis. Was that in the very early months of the peaceful uprising, whilst the regime was detaining and disappearing hundreds, if not thousands of peaceful protesters, it also decided to announce a series of prisoner amnesties, almost all of which saw Islamists and jihadist prisoners released. So there was this kind of dichotomy that the regime was creating whereby it was wrapping up and disappearing all of the more secular, peaceful, nationalist protest leaders and protesters and sweeping them into prison cells, and then releasing all of the more dangerous Islamist and jihadist individuals who had been in prison for violent offences. 

Fritz Streiff: Why would the regime release Islamic extremists?

Abdallah: To let the revolution become more… using the weapons against the government and stuff like this, this is the first. Which the regime know this game very well. And the second, to let the Western country see the revolution, Islamic people, and they will…

Fritz Streiff: Violence?

Abdallah: Violent and yeah a lot of terrorist stuff like this.

Fritz Streiff: So would you say that at that time they wanted to kill the peaceful spirit? 

Abdallah: Exactly. 

Fritz Streiff: And they wanted to show the world that they had a legitimate reason to fight the revolution. 

Abdallah: Exactly. 

Charles Lister: The regime knew what it was doing. You know, this is a regime that has survived for over 50 years. It has survived for over 50 years because it has designed a system of near total control. And it has also understood exactly how it can manipulate its population into submission. 

Fritz Streiff: And as the time went on 2011, 2012, could you see the development of the conflict getting worse? 

Abdallah: Yeah. The first time the big demonstration happened in March 2012. 

Fritz Streiff: One year after the start. 

Abdallah: Yeah. This is the main point of Raqqa turn this revolution side. When they shot direct a guy called Ali al Babinsi. There was a lot of shooting before, but they don't kill. They arrest,  send you to Damascus, send you to the jail, beating, torture. But this is the first time they shoot and they shot him like ten metres away from me. I saw him. And the next day, when we took him to the grave, we carr him from Raqqa city centre to the graves outside. This the first time I see like, thousands of thousands of the people. I think more than 100,000. More than. 

Fritz Streiff: Wow.

Abdallah: Yeah. When we return back, so the people get angry, really angry, and they start to go to the Hafez al-Assad statue. We went there to try to destroy this statue and we saw a lot of soldiers, military and intelligence from all the branches. From Military Service and from State Security Branch. And they started shooting us. And they kill my friend Mustafa Al Zana. They killed him. They killed on this week, about 41 persons. 

Fritz Streiff: So that was the big turning point?

Abdallah: Yes. 

Fritz Streiff: And for you personally, how did things go on from there?

Abdallah: There was a meeting for the coordination. We were at a place in Raqqa city. And they attack the place. And they arrested us, all of them, like a joint group from all the branches that came with the military. I put all the, you know, username and password and stuff for the Facebook pages and the emails, streaming account. I put everything in USB small. So when they attacked the apartment, I really scared. You know, they tried to shoot, it was a third floor. I tried to run away to the balcony. At that time, I think to jump and, you know, to end my life because I really scared. But the soldiers, they start to shoot the balcony from the street and I just lie on the balcony. Then I take the USB and I threw it. And they came and arrested me. 

Fritz Streiff: We heard about Abdallah's detainment and torture in multiple intelligence branches in episode one. He was detained in Raqqa before being moved to a nearby city called Deir ez-Zor and was then moved on to the capital, Damascus. Being transferred to Damascus was what detainees feared most. It was a fate that often meant you would never return. 

Whilst he was enduring horrific treatment in the underground cells of these branches, the conflict was getting hotter on the ground above. The skirmishes between the regime and the protesters were developing, getting increasingly more violent. 

Kenan Khadaj. 

Kenan Khadaj: The transition started happening somewhere by the end of 2011. Bashar Assad’s decision to involve the army in this conflict was a catastrophe because, like first, everybody has to go to the army in Syria. From every family, when you're 18, when you've finished studying, you have to go, it's mandatory. And some of those soldiers were forced to fire their weapons at their own neighbourhoods. And not surprisingly, they started not following orders. And for the regime being what it is, there were orders to execute anybody who refused to shoot at the protesters. And so soldiers logically started leaving their posts and going back to the place where they came from or started building small groups to defend those protesters. And of course it was unorganised, but it happened all over Syria and that was like the beginning of the Free Syrian Army. 

Fritz Streiff: The Free Syrian Army may not have had the same military might as the regime, but it began to succeed in liberating areas of Syria from regime control, including in Aleppo. Diana Khayyata was in Aleppo, still separated from her children in July 2012 when the city became a battleground. Rebel fighters launched an offensive to oust government forces and gain control over northern Syria. 

Diana Khayyata: One incident I will never forget, which was when the first time the MEG, the military aeroplane MEG, flew in the sky of Aleppo and started shelling the highest area, which was the radio station centre there. And why I will never forget this day is not only because it's so scary, the sound and the situation and even the smell of the air, but also that my children's house was literally in front of the radio station building. So they were in the basement hiding, at least 6 hours and I couldn't see them. I couldn't talk to them because I wasn't allowed to. So when the father took them away from me, the minute he got them away, he said, I'm not allowed to see them. I'm not allowed to talk to them unless he approves it. So me watching from my balcony, me watching the MEG flying, shelling and flying back away. I really don't wish any mother to live in such a situation. It was really scary. And then 7.15 exactly, 7:15 a.m. sharp, they got out this area. 

Fritz Streiff: Despite the military power of the regime, the Free Syrian Army did continue to make gains. East Aleppo was liberated from regime control and other parts of Syria also fell to the opposition. As 2013 came around, much of Syria was under opposition control and there was the real feeling that the opposition could win. 

Charles Lister.

Charles Lister: The scale to which, at first regional states intervened, providing finance and weaponry and soon thereafter some training to armed opposition groups, did give way in late 2012 and early 2013, a period in which the armed opposition was just by a significant margin, they held all the cards. There were military bases all across the country falling to opposition control, in a fairly rapid fashion in that period. And that period also then gave way to the United States and Europe, sort of joining in the bandwagon of providing support to the mainstream opposition. 

Fritz Streiff: By the end of 2012, the Free Syrian Army had captured key parts of the road that led from Damascus to Raqqa. It joined forces with Ahrar al-Sham, an Islamist opposition group whose formation can be directly traced back to the regime's release of Islamist extremists from prison in 2011. The rebels had also joined with al-Nusra Front, another Islamist group who had close ties to Al Qaeda. This gang of militarised opposition groups were heading to Raqqa. Muhammad had been released from prison and was in Raqqa when the rebels approached. 

Muhammad VO: On March 2nd, we were asleep, when suddenly around four or five in the morning we heard gunfire. It wasn't heavy shelling, just sporadic gunfire. They were on the outskirts at first - then news started spreading. The Free Syrian Army was in the heart of the city. They had surrounded the State Security and Military Security forces. 

Abdallah: This takes like two or three days. Two days. 

Fritz Streiff: Quick. 

Abdallah: It's really quick. Because Assad regime, they don't send any support to them. 

Fritz Streiff:  It seemed that no one had felt that this city, considered loyal to the regime, would fall so quickly. Raqqa became the first provincial capital to fall to the rebels. It was a major gain for them, after two years of fighting the Assad regime for control of Syria. 

What happened to the high ranking regime officials who were in Raqqa when the Free Syrian Army came? 

Abdallah: There was the mayor and the head of Ba’ath Party in Raqqa, and they got arrested by Islamic groups, Jabhat al-Nusra. I don't know what happened to them to now. Colonel Samir who was the head of the Military Intelligence Branch, he fled to 17 brigade, north of Raqqa. So most of the high ranking generals and officers, they went to 17 Brigade. 

Fritz Streiff: The 17th Brigade is the part of the Syrian Arab Army - so the regime's army - that was responsible for northeastern Syria. Which is the part of Syria where Raqqa is located. 

Steve Kostas: In the first few days of March 2013, the opposition liberated Raqqa. So they defeated the government forces and took control of the governorate and particularly of the city. And in the days before that, several helicopters of high level officials from Raqqa retreated to Damascus. So key officials from Raqqa, from the security and intelligence directorates. But Halabi did not go. So he didn't return to Damascus. 

Fritz Streiff: Khaled al-Halabi had neither returned back to Damascus or to the safety of nearby regime controlled areas, nor had he been captured by the rebels. Khaled al-Halabi had disappeared. Where had he gone? 

The Syria Trials Season Two is hosted by me, Fritz Streiff. You can find us on socials @75 podcasts or at our website 75, where you can listen to season one of our series, as well as our sister series in Arabic. Please do leave a comment or review for us on Spotify or Apple Podcasts or wherever you usually listen. It'll help us reach more listeners and interested parties. Thank you very much for listening.