Tens of thousands demand U.S. get out of Iraq

By Deborah Charles
Reuters
Saturday, January 27, 2007; 5:19 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chanting "bring our troops home," tens of thousands of anti-war protesters rallied in front of the U.S. Capitol on Saturday to pressure the government to get out of Iraq.

Veterans and military families joined some lawmakers, peace groups and actors including Vietnam war protester Jane Fonda to urge Congress and President George W. Bush to stop funding the war and pull troops from Iraq.

"When I served in the war, I thought I was serving honorably. Instead, I was sent to war ... for causes that have proved fraudulent," said Iraq war veteran Garett Reppenhagen.

"We need to put pressure on our elected government and force them to ... bring the troops home," the former sniper said to cheers from a sign-waving crowd.

Tens of thousands of people attended the rally on the National Mall, according to a park police officer.

For more than two hours, speakers atop a stage that also held a flag-draped coffin criticized Bush and the U.S. presence in Iraq before protesters marched around the Capitol.

In the crowd, a group of families of soldiers killed in Iraq held pictures of their loved ones, including one photo of a soldier in full dress uniform lying in a coffin.

More than 3,000 U.S. troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The protest was one of several held around the United States. In California, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in San Francisco and Los Angeles, where several dozen people carried flag-draped, mock coffins.

Protesters also planned coordinated efforts in Washington and across the country over the next week to lobby lawmakers to take action against the war.

DISAPPROVE OF MORE TROOPS

Bush's approval ratings have dropped to some of the weakest of his presidency and polls show a majority of Americans disapprove of his plan to send another 21,500 troops to Iraq.


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