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A search for the standard model Higgs boson produced in association with a W or a Z boson and decaying to a pair of τ leptons is performed. A data sample of proton-proton collisions collected at $ \sqrt{s} $ = 13 TeV by the CMS experiment at the CERN LHC is used, corresponding to an integrated luminosity of 35.9 fb$^{−1}$. The signal strength is measured relative to the expectation for the standard model Higgs boson, yielding μ = 2.5$_{− 1.3}^{+ 1.4}$ . These results are combined with earlier CMS measurements targeting Higgs boson decays to a pair of τ leptons, performed with the same data set in the gluon fusion and vector boson fusion production modes. The combined signal strength is μ = 1.24$_{− 0.27}^{+ 0.29}$ (1.00$_{− 0.23}^{+ 0.24}$ expected), and the observed significance is 5.5 standard deviations (4.8 expected) for a Higgs boson mass of 125 GeV.