Protests across US condemn action in Iran and Iraq

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Activists gather in Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, to protest recent U.S. military actions in Iraq. A top Iranian general and Iraqi militiamen were killed in a U.S. airstrike that sharply escalated tensions across the region. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Demonstrators in dozens of cities around the U.S. gathered Saturday to protest the Trump administration’s killing of an Iranian general and decision to send thousands of additional soldiers to the Middle East.

More than 70 planned protests were organized by CODEPINK and Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, a U.S.-based anti-war coalition, along with other groups.

From Tampa to Philadelphia and San Francisco to New York, protesters carried signs and chanted anti-war slogans.

President Donald Trump ordered Friday’s airstrike near Baghdad’s international airport that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force who has been blamed for attacks on U.S. troops and American allies going back decades. Iran has vowed retribution, raising fears of an all-out war, but it’s unclear how or when a response might come.

Protest organizers said the Trump administration has essentially started a war with Iran by assassinating Soleimani.

In Miami, nearly 50 protesters gathered. Drivers heard people shouting, “No more drone murders,” “We want peace now” and “What do we want? Peace in Iran.”

A few hundred demonstrators gathered in Times Square on Saturday chanting “No justice, no peace, U.S. out of the Middle East!”

“The United States is trying to use Iraq as a proxy war,” said Russell Branca, 72, of Queens. “If the United States and Iran are going to fights it’s not going to be in the United States and it’s not going to be in Iran, it’ll be in other places. And it’s just crazy because none of this is necessary.”

In Minneapolis, protesters gathered near the University of Minnesota holding signs and chanting. Among them was Meredith Aby, a longtime leader of the local Anti-War Committee.

“We need to be pulling out of Iraq, not sending thousands more troops. We need to be trying to cool things down with Iran, not pouring gasoline on a fire,” Aby, 47, said.

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