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The Guardian SEPTEMBER 26, 2005 - by Duncan Campbell
PEACE PROTEST MARCHERS CALL FOR TROOP WITHDRAWAL
The mother of a soldier killed by a roadside bomb near Basra led calls at the weekend for British troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. The appeal to the government came as senior military figures called for an exit strategy and a poll showed growing public support for it.
"Seven weeks ago we saw our son for the last time in a coffin at the chapel of rest, looking down on the face of a son that I had given birth to, love with all my heart, knowing that I would never see him again," Sue Smith, whose son, Private Phillip Hewett, was killed while on patrol, told a rally in Hyde Park on Saturday. Reading from a letter to Tony Blair that she had earlier delivered to 10 Downing Street, she said: "You made the decision to go to Iraq and you can make the decision to get our sons and daughters out of there."
The rally came at the end of a march from Parliament Square organised by the Stop The War Coalition. Organisers claimed that 100,000 had attended, while the police put the figure at 10,000.
In Washington DC more than 100,000 protesters reportedly surged through the US capital. Thousands more rallied in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other US cities. "We need a people's movement to end this war," said Cindy Sheehan, whose son was one of almost 2,000 killed in Iraq.
In Hyde Park relatives of the 96 British soldiers who have died appealed for withdrawal by Christmas. "This is an illegal and unwinnable war," Tony Benn told the crowd.
The musician Brian Eno said: "It is time to stop prosecuting vanity wars and time to start dealing with the world's real problems." Tariq Ali said the demonstration was a far greater reflection of the country's mood than that represented by the Labour party conference in Brighton. A former anti-Vietnam war leader, Tom Hayden, who had come from California, said the marchers represented "the power of the people against the pillars of policy". Bruce Kent of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said to applause: "My formula for an exit strategy is quite simple: get out."
A YouGov poll for Five News at the weekend showed that 57% of those polled favoured a withdrawal, compared with 27% who opposed it.