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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 September 2005, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Thousands stage anti-war protest
Protesters march past Big Ben
The march began near Parliament
Several thousand protesters have taken part in a demonstration in central London against the conflict in Iraq.

The route took protesters along Whitehall and into Piccadilly before reaching Hyde Park for a rally.

Police said about 10,000 people took part, but Stop The War Coalition said up to 100,000 were protesting.

Families of three British soldiers killed in Iraq addressed the marchers. Police said the event was peaceful and there had been no arrests.

Among the protesters was Sue Smith, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, whose son Phillip Hewett died in July when a roadside bomb exploded under his vehicle near Basra.

Ms Smith delivered a letter to the prime minister urging him to pull British troops out of Iraq.

You made the decision to go to Iraq and you can make the decision to get our sons and daughters out of there
Letter to Tony Blair from a parent of a soldier killed in Iraq

She broke down in tears as she read out the letter out the crowd at Hyde Park.

In her letter, she said: "Seven weeks ago we saw our son for the last time in a coffin at the chapel of rest. (We were) looking down on the face of a son that I had given birth to and loved with all my heart, knowing that I would never see him again.

"You made the decision to go to Iraq and you can make the decision to get our sons and daughters out of there."


Reg Keys, whose son Tom was one of six military policemen killed in June 2003, and Peter Brierley, whose son Shaun died in Kuwait in April of that year, also called for British troops to be brought home.

Mr Brierley from Batley in Yorkshire said: "I am totally overwhelmed. Now Tony Blair has to listen and bring the troops home.

"Looking at what happened in Iraq through this last week it is obvious that Iraq does not want the troops there and if they don't bring them out there will be more families like us."

Anti-war march

Andrew Murray, chairman of the Stop The War coalition, said: "We are marching to defend our civil liberties which are under attack and to show our solidarity with the Muslim communities who are bearing the brunt of that attack."

Kate Hudson, chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, read out a message from London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

It said: "The war and occupation have brought neither democracy nor peace to Iraq. We have made life harder and far more dangerous for the population of that country."

Veteran campaigner Tony Benn described the war as "corrupt" and "unwinnable".

'Oil and power'

He added: "It is a war for oil and power and they are trying to present it as a religious war.

"I do not believe that Jesus Christ ordered Bush to go into Iraq. I do not believe that Mohammed wanted people to die in buses and on the underground."

British soldier Lance-Corporal George Solomou, who refused his call-up to serve in Iraq, said: "The British people are increasingly realising that they have been told more and more lies about the war."

The coalition said the recent clashes involving British troops in Basra highlighted the urgent need to bring the "occupation" to an end.

See the protests in central London and Washington

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