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Protesters in US rally against prospect of war with Iran

Protester's sign reads: 'Need a distraction? Start of a war.' Trump faces trial in Senate following his impeachment by House of Representatives in Ukraine scandal
Protesters demonstrate outside White House, in New York’s Times Square, at Trump Tower in Chicago and at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin among other locations (AFP)

Protesters took to the streets of Washington and other US cities on Saturday to condemn the air strike in Iraq ordered by President Donald Trump that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Trump's decision to send about 3,000 more troops to the Middle East.

"No justice, no peace. US out of the Middle East," hundreds of demonstrators chanted outside the White House before marching to the Trump International Hotel a few blocks away, Reuters said.

More than 70 protests across the country were planned for Saturday, many organised by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), a US-based anti-war coalition, in cooperation with more than a dozen other such groups including Code Pink, The Hill said on its website. Protesters demonstrated outside the White House, in New York’s Times Square, at Trump Tower in Chicago and at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, among other locations.

"Need a distraction? Start of a war," read a sign held by Sam Crook, 66. Trump faces a looming trial in the Senate following his impeachment by the House of Representatives in the Ukraine scandal. Crook described himself as concerned. "This country is in the grip of somebody who's mentally unstable, I mean Donald Trump, that is. He's not right in the head," Crook told AFP.

Protesters streamed through New York's Times Square on Saturday (Reuters)
Protesters stream through New York's Times Square on Saturday (Reuters)

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Speakers at the Washington event included Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg as well as actress and activist Jane Fonda, 82, who last year was arrested at a climate change protest on the steps of the US Capitol.

"The younger people here should know that all of the wars fought since you were born have been fought over oil," Fonda, 82, told the crowd, adding that "we can't anymore lose lives and kill people and ruin an environment because of oil."

"Going to a march doesn't do a lot, but at least I can come out and say something, that I'm opposed to this stuff," said protester Steve Lane of Bethesda, Maryland. "And maybe if enough people do the same thing, Trump will listen."

Soleimani, regarded as the second-most powerful figure in Iran, was killed in the US strike on his convoy at Baghdad airport on Friday in a dramatic escalation of hostilities in the Middle East between Iran and the United States and its allies.

Public opinion polls show that Americans, in general, have been opposed to US military interventions overseas. A survey last year by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs indicated that 27 percent of Americans believe military interventions make the United States safer, while almost half said they make the country less safe.

Code Pink organiser Medea Benjamin told the Guardian she believed that as the US anti-war movement stirs, people will follow. "We've been in the desert for the last 10 years, and now we're anxious to build up a robust anti-war organisation again."

Code Pink first rose to prominence protesting against the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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