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Protests against Iraq war continue
Demonstrations against the US-led war in Iraq are continuing ahead of the fourth anniversary of the invasion.
Thousands of people are expected to hold more than 1,000 candle-lit vigils around the US later on Monday to mark the launch of the war, which began on March 19, 2003, in Washington time.
US pressure group MoveOn.org, one of the vigils' organisers, said the action was a a protest against sending "tens of thousands of exhausted, under-equipped and unprepared troops into the middle of an Iraqi civil war".
It said in a statement: "We'll solemnly honour the sacrifice made by more than 3,000 [US] servicemen and women, and we'll contemplate the path ahead of us."
The organisation, which says it has more than three million members, has urged Americans to help stop attempts by the administration of George Bush, the US president, to escalate the war in Iraq.
The action follows protests against the war that have taken place around the world in the past few days.
In Europe, about 5,000 people demonstrated in the Belgian capital, Brussels, on Sunday demanding the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
They also chanted slogans against US foreign policy towards Lebanon and Iran.
In the US, up to 30,000 people marched through New York on Sunday, a day after similar mass protests in Washington and Los Angeles, the US group United for Peace and Justice said. Police did not estimate the numbers.
Protests were also held over the weekend in Britain, Australia, Spain and Canada.
'Voice of the people'
Vietnam war veterans joined students and musicians in a march through Manhattan, chanting "Troops out now" and calling for Bush to be impeached.
Tim Robbins, US actor and critic of the Iraq war, helped lead the march. He said: "This is the voice of the people.
"American people want this war to end, so when are we going to start listening to them? The main message is to stop this immoral war."
Jose Vasquez, a conscientious objector US army staff sergeant who refused to be deployed to Iraq, said he believed the anti-war movement was seeing renewed vigour with the weekend protests.
"If people are willing to listen to what the troops have to say, they'll find that the military itself is turning against the war, not unlike what happened during Vietnam," he said.
On Saturday, thousands of people demanding a US withdrawal from Iraq
marched on the Pentagon, the US defence department's Washington DC headquarters.
Ramsey Clark, the former US attorney general who was among those at the rally, called for Bush to be impeached over his handling of the war.