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Syria anti-intervention march in London draws thousands (PHOTOS)

Published time: August 31, 2013 17:01
Edited time: September 01, 2013 18:44
Protestors demonstrate against potential strikes on the Syrian government, at Trafalgar Square in central London August 31, 2013. (Reuters / Olivia Harris)

Protestors demonstrate against potential strikes on the Syrian government, at Trafalgar Square in central London August 31, 2013. (Reuters / Olivia Harris)

Thousands gathered in Trafalgar Square in London to take part in the ‘Hands off Syria’ rally, protesting against the US-lead military intervention in the Middle Eastern country.

The demonstrators carried banners, saying “War solves nothing,” “Cut war not welfare,” and “Stop the war coalition” as polls show that opposition against the use of British missiles in Syria stands at two to one among UK citizens.

One of the speakers on stage – Labour Party MP, Diane Abbott – said that an “illegal” war in Syria “wouldn’t solve anything,” adding that “if the answer is an American military intervention than you have asked the wrong questions.”

British Pakistani writer, Tariq Ali, stressed that this time the anti-war protest has “the support of an overwhelming majority of the British and the American people,” warning that military intervention will only prolong the Syrian civil war, which started in earnest in March 2011. 

Hundreds of people take part in a protest against military intervention in Syria in central London on August 31, 2013. (AFP Photo / Carl Court)

The Stop the War Coalition said they expected around 5,000 people to take part in the action, which would also include a march in central London through the Houses of Parliament and Downing Street.

It’s the second ‘Hands off Syria’ rally to take place in the British capital this week after around a 1,000 gathered in front of the UK government’s headquarters on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the UK parliament voted against British involvement in a military campaign in Syria, leaving the US without the support of its usual ally.   

Pro-Syria rallies hit US

Rallies to support Syria were also staged in Washington D.C. The shouts of the protestors: "Obama, hands off Syria" were clearly audible on the coverage from the White House as the US president was about to address the nation on the Syrian issue from the Rose Garden. Obama announced that he would seek approval from the Congress before proceeding with a "limited" strike on Syrian government targets.

While right across the street, Syrians and Syrian Americans, who support US military intervention, waved Syrian flags and shouted that Assad must go.

Another protest took place in Iowa City, with a larger rally scheduled for Saturday.

"Not only is it wrong, in the terms of the reason why we're doing it, the way in which we are doing it is also illegal," the rally's organizer, Ed Flaherty, director of the Iowa chapter of Veterans for Peace, told NBC.

On Friday, anti-war demonstrations took place in different cities and towns across the US, with hundreds protesting Obama’s plans to strike Syria in the Times Square in New York. 

The Australian capital, Sydney, also saw a rally on Friday as hundreds of protestors demanded: "Obama hear us now and hear us loud, hands off Syria."

The wave of international protests was sparked by US President, Barack Obama, announcing that Washington was weighing a “limited and narrow” military action against Syria, which wouldn’t involve “boots on the ground.”

The US intelligence report, released on Friday, assessed with “high confidence” that Syrian government of Bashar Assad is behind an alleged chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus last week, killing hundreds of civilians.

Earlier, French president, Francois Hollande, said that the Western coalition may strike Syria before September 4.  

On Saturday, Vladimir Putin urged Washington to present its evidence to the UN Security Council before beginning the attack, with the Russian labeling as “utter nonsense” the idea that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own people.

Hundreds of people protest against military intervention in Syria in central London on August 31, 2013. (AFP Photo / Carl Court)

Protesters shout slogans and wave the Syrian flag as they demonstrate against military intervention in Syria in central London on August 31, 2013. (AFP Photo / Carl Court)