Hands off Syria!

Protest war, Islamophobia

Rochester, N.Y. — Amidst swirling snow and freezing temperatures, demonstrators gathered at the Liberty Pole in downtown Rochester on March 18 to protest the escalating U.S. war and invasion of Syria.

The protest was called by the Rochester International Action Center and endorsed by the U.S. Peace Council, the United Nation­al Antiwar Coalition, and the Hands Off Syria Coalition. Several local progressive and community groups also participated.

The demonstration was part of a nationwide series of protests and other activities called for the week of March 11-18 to focus attention on the blatant intervention and outright invasion of U.S. forces in Syria and the Middle East.

Within the past two weeks, aggression by the U.S. and its allies has increased sharply. Four hundred Marines and their equip­ment have been deployed in Syria, and the Pentagon is considering sending 1,000 more troops. (Washington Post, Mar. 15) The total is expected to reach 3,000.

On March 9, Gen. Joseph Votel said that U.S. forces will be “required” to stabilize the region as U.S. officials anticipate that “America’s allies” — i.e., anti- Assad rebels — will need assistance from the U.S. military to establish “Syrian-led peacekeeping efforts” in the area. (Army Times, March 9)

This is a frank admission that U.S. troops will not be going anywhere even after the Islamic State group is removed, despite the fact that the presence of the IS is the only justification the U.S. military has offered for its technically illegal presence within Syria.

Recent propaganda barrages from groups like the “White Helmets,” a supposed nongovernmental organization in Syria which is actually a tool of Western propaganda directed by a non-Arab “missionary” operating out of Britain; and a now debunked report by Amnesty International accusing Syria of “war crimes,” show the need for actions like the one which happened here in Rochester.

The protest received many honks of support from passersby in cars and an overall friendly reception, although coverage by the local mainstream press was notably absent.

Progressive and peace-loving people everywhere must be alert and prepared to counter the U.S. war drive, which has regime change in Syria and complete domination of the Middle East as its ­ultimate goal.

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