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By Mike O'Sullivan
Los Angeles
16 March 2008

Protesters in several US cities held anti-war rallies Saturday to mark the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, March 20th. More rallies are planned in coming days in other U.S. cities. Mike O'Sullivan reports, several thousand joined an anti-war protest in Los Angeles.

Anti-war protesters in Los Angeles, 14 Mar 2008
Anti-war protesters in Los Angeles, 15 Mar 2008
Marchers chanted and some carried flag-draped coffins as speakers demanded that U.S. troops come home.

Sharaf Mowjood of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says the continued presence of American troops is worsening conditions in Iraq, and diverting attention from domestic U.S. problems, including rebuilding New Orleans. The city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Sharaf Mowjood of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles, 14 Mar 2008
Sharaf Mowjood of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles, 15 Mar 2008
"We need to pull out immediately. That's the main thing right now we need to do. It's a conundrum as it is," he said. "So it's in a situation where the best viable option is to pull out because you have a lot of these internal problems you have to deal with, health care, sub-prime mortgage crisis, Katrina, all that. We need to work on those issues first."

Members of religious, labor and community groups joined the Los Angeles demonstration. Madelyn MacKay, a Quaker, says the protests are sending a message to the candidates in the November 4 presidential election.

Madelyn MacKay, during anti-war protests in Los Angeles, 14 Mar 2008
Madelyn MacKay, during anti-war protests in Los Angeles, 15 Mar 2008
"And I think this sort of unity among groups for this one cause in the country is a big message to all of the candidates running that there is a lot of support through all kinds of organizations and all kinds of communities, people that do want us to get out of the war quickly," she said.

Protests were also scheduled Saturday for Albuquerque, Austin, and other U.S. cities.

More anti-war events are scheduled in San Francisco, Chicago and Washington D.C. on March 19, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

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