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Protesters in L.A. rally against proposed U.S. airstrikes on Syria

August 31, 2013|By Catherine Saillant

At least 100 protesters marched through downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to voice their opposition to the Obama administration's consideration of targeted airstrikes in Syria.

"Hands off Syria!" shouted the protesters as they moved from Pershing Square to surrounding streets. "We want peace!"

Organizers said they hastily arranged the protest over the last two days after President Obama signaled that he was considering a "limited, narrow" attack on Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

"Even if it's just these limited airstrikes, they don’t really say what the objective is,'' said Mike Prysner, a spokesman for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, or ANSWER, a Los Angeles group that was one of several organizations taking part in the march. "When is it going to stop? Who are they going to target? It’s going in without a real goal."

The White House has released intelligence concluding that Assad used nerve gas to kill more than 1,400 Syrians, including at least 426 children. Assad has been battling rebel groups in his country in a civil war that is entering its third year.

The president has said strikes would be intended to deter Assad from using chemical weapons on his people again. It also would serve as a warning to other nations that may be tempted to use them, the administration has said.

On Saturday, the president said he would consult with Congress before making a decision.

Prysner, who said he was an Army veteran who took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, voiced doubt about the White House's case for attacking Syria.

"It really hits home for me because I was one of those very trusting, loyal soldiers," he said. "We've learned not to trust the war propaganda."

Prysner said the protesters didn't obtain a permit for the march. Officers at the scene controlled traffic as the marchers moved through the streets for about two hours.


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