London : Some 5,000 people protested in London today against potential British participation in Syria airstrikes, as political momentum mounted to broaden the fight against Islamic State (IS) jihadists.
Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday laid out the case for British jets, already bombing IS targets in Iraq, to join France, the United States and others in targeting IS strongholds in neighbouring Syria.
Yet Britain remains deeply scarred by its former interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the latter drawing hundreds of thousands of protesters onto the streets of London in 2003.
In an echo of that protest, thousands gathered in central London carrying placards reading “Don’t bomb Syria”, “Drop Cameron, not bombs”, and “Don’t add fuel to the fire”.
“David Cameron’s incoherent proposals for action in Syria will do nothing to weaken Isis but will instead inflame the civil war, deepen the misery of the Syrian people and increase the terrorist risk,” said the Stop the War Coalition protest movement.
A parliamentary vote on bombing Syria is expected as early as next week, and many formerly reluctant politicians are thought to have changed their minds after the Paris attacks. Some 5,000 people also protested in Madrid against military action in Syria, with many wary of Spain becoming a target for militants again after Al-Qaeda-inspired bombers blew up commuter trains in the Spanish capital in 2004, killing 191 people. Many Spaniards believe the attack was in retaliation for their country’s involvement in the Iraq war.
Reeling from the coordinated IS gun and bomb assault that killed 130 people on November 13, French leaders have in recent days called on allies to join France in stepping up military action against the jihadist group.
On Thursday Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called on Britain to help “win this war”, and in a rare intervention in a British parliamentary ballot, President Francois Hollande on Friday urged lawmakers to “meet the request of Prime Minister Cameron”.
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