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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
US & World News

Possible U.S.-led attack on Syria sparks rallies


Published:

HOUSTON — Protesters around the world are taking to the streets to express support for and against a possible U.S.-led attack on Syria.

President Barack Obama has said that any possible attack would be limited and aimed at punishing Syrian President Bashar Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons. The U.S. has said Assad’s regime launched a deadly chemical attack this month, killing more than 1,420 people, including more than 400 children.

In London, more than 1,000 protesters carrying Syrian flags and placards reading “Hands Off Syria,” marched to Downing Street and rallied in Trafalgar Square on Saturday.

About 700 people turned out for an anti-war demonstration in Frankfurt, Germany, police said. Organizers of the protest said only a “sovereign, independent Syria free of foreign interference” would make it possible for the Syrian people to shape the country’s future.

Other rallies also are planned in the United States, including Houston, which is expected to have one expressing support for an attack and another that opposes action. Protesters in Boston also plan to gather to oppose an attack.

U.N. inspectors left Syria on Saturday after a four-day, on-site investigation in the area where the chemical attack is suspected. Their departure brought the looming confrontation between the U.S. and Assad’s regime one step closer to coming to a head.

Most observers viewed U.S. military action as unlikely while the U.N. team was still inside Syria, but the Obama administration has made clear that it is confident in its assessment and could act before the U.N. releases the results of its probe.

The protesters in London hailed as a victory the U.K. parliament vote on Thursday against British participation in any U.S.-led attack.

“Today is a victory of British public opinion over those who want war,” former Labour Party lawmaker Tony Benn told the protesters. “Chemical weapons are terrible weapons, but when you think of all the thousands of people that have been killed by British and American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq you realize that it isn’t true that another war would solve the problem.”

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Associated Press writers Steve LeBlanc and Rodrique Ngowi in Boston, Geir Moulson in Frankfurt and Sylvia Hui in London contributed to this report.

Caption 1:

Turkish Workers party supporters shout slogans during a demonstration in Hatay, Turkey, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. U.N. chemical weapons experts have left Syria and crossed into neighboring Lebanon. The team on Friday carried out a fourth and final day of inspection as they sought to determine precisely what happened in the Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus. The team took samples from victims for examination in laboratories in Europe. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Caption 2:

Protestors hold placards showing Syrian President Bashar Assad during a demonstration against French and foreign military involvement in Syria, in Paris, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Caption 3:

Protestors hold placard showing Syrian President Bashar Assad and Syrian flags during a demonstration against French and foreign military involvement in Syria, in Paris, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Caption 4:

Turkish Workers party supporters display a Syrian flag, and placards reading, from left: “ Ataturk said peace in the country peace in the world, gate borders should be opened, Turkey and Syria are brothers, no to war, during a demonstration in Hatay, Turkey, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. U.N. chemical weapons experts have left Syria and crossed into neighboring Lebanon. The team on Friday carried out a fourth and final day of inspection as they sought to determine precisely what happened in the Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus. The team took samples from victims for examination in laboratories in Europe. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Caption 5:

Jordanian protesters burn representations of the U.S. and Israel flags, and wave the Syrian national flag, during a protest against any American military strike on Syria, near the U.S. embassy, Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. The sign in Arabic reads, “steady oh mountain Qasyoon in the face of sons of Zion.” (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

Caption 6:

Jordanian protesters are seen through a Syrian national flag, adorned with photos of Syrian President Bashar Assad, during a protest against any American military strike on Syria, near the U.S. embassy, Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

Caption 7:

Jordanian protesters step on representations of the U.S. and Israel flags during a protest against any American military strike on Syria, in front of the U.S. embassy, Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

Caption 8:

Jordanian security police stand in front of protesters waving the Syrian national flag and holding an anti-American poster during a protest against any American military strike on Syria, near the U.S. embassy, Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

Caption 9:

Jordanian protesters burn representations of the U.S. and Israel flags during a protest in front of the U.S. embassy against any American military strike on Syria, in Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

Caption 10:

Jordanian protesters wave the Syrian national flag during a protest against any American military strike against Syria, near the U.S. embassy, Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

Caption 11:

Jordanian security police stand in front of protesters waving the Syrian national flag and a photo of late president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, during a protest against any American military strike against Syria, near the U.S. embassy, Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. The white sign reads in Arabic” Woe for the invaders, the martyr Saddam Hussein al Majeed.” (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

Caption 12:

A protestor wears a cap writing “I love Bashar” during a demonstration against French and foreign military involvement in Syria, in Paris, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Caption 13:

Turkish Workers party supporters shout slogans as they hold placards reading, “gate borders should be opened”, bottom, “Turkey and Syria are brothers” during a demonstration in Hatay, Turkey, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. U.N. chemical weapons experts have left Syria and crossed into neighboring Lebanon. The team on Friday carried out a fourth and final day of inspection as they sought to determine precisely what happened in the Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus. The team took samples from victims for examination in laboratories in Europe. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

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