29 September 2005 Edition

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Opposition to Iraq war continues to grow

The World Today

Tens of thousands of attend demonstrations

Tens of thousands of anti-war demonstrators have staged rallies in Washington, demanding the withdrawal of US and British troops from Iraq.

There were similar demonstrations in London, Copenhagen, Damascus, Helsinki, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

In London, police said 10,000 people converged on Hyde Park though organisers said there were 100,000. Violent clashes between insurgents and British troops in the southern Iraqi city of Basra has increased the the focus on Britain's role in the war.

In Washington, protestors from around the US criticised mounting US and Iraqi casualties and contrasted the spending on the war effort with that on recovery for areas battered by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Among the demonstrators in Washington were 60 former US soldiers recently returned from Iraq, holding signs saying 'Bring Them Home Now!' and wearing their desert camouflage uniforms. Roughly 147,000 US troops are in Iraq. Since the war began in March 2003 to Saturday 24 September, 1,911 US soldiers have been killed and 14,641 wounded.

Two of the key speakers in Washington were Cindy Sheehan, whose 24-year-old son Casey was killed in Iraq last year, and British MP George Galloway.

Sheehan breathed new life into the anti-war movement in August when she camped outside the George Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, demanding to speak to the US President.

Opinion polls in the past week have shown that support among the American public for the Iraq war is at its lowest point ever.

The latest anti-war activities occurred on the same weekend as the autumn meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which drew several hundred activists who criticised the organisation's policies as detrimental to the world's poor.

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