Protests mark 2,000 US deaths in Iraq

Hundreds of protests and vigils will be held across the United States today to mark the 2,000th US military death in Iraq.

Hundreds of protests and vigils will be held across the United States today to mark the 2,000th US military death in Iraq.

The sombre milestone has long been foreseen as a significant marker in the war by anti-war campaigners.

More than 400 protests are planned from Washington to California to Hawaii, all set to take place one day after a US Army sergeant became the 2,000th casualty of the bloody conflict.

Staff Sergeant George Alexander, 34, died in a Texas hospital of wounds suffered when a bomb exploded near his vehicle in the city of Samarra on October 17.

Cindy Sheehan, the bereaved mother who has become a face of the anti-war movement in the US, has already announced plans to tie herself to the railings of the White House to protest at the deaths.

Her 24-year-old Army Specialist son, Casey, was killed in Baghdad last April.

The American Friends Service Committee anti-war coalition is helping to co-ordinate events and has called on congress to stop the deaths by “stopping the dollars that are funding the war”.

Peace Action also used the grim milestone to demand change.

“Bush failed to have a realistic vision for post-invasion Iraq and his meandering course has led to the grave for over 2,000 American service men and women and estimates upwards of 100,000 Iraqis,” said executive director Kevin Martin.

“Bush’s insistence on continued military occupation feeds the insurgency. Congress must now take the leadership role in bringing our troops home.”

Anti-Bush group Moveon.org unveiled an advert it intends to run nationally on CNN.

Asking ’How Many More?’ the ad shows a coffin in the sand as a voice reads names of American soldiers killed in Iraq.

The senate held a minute’s silence yesterday to honour all American troops who have died in Iraq.

Republican majority leader Bill Frist said: “We owe them a deep debt of gratitude for their courage, for their valour, for their strength.”

Democrats called for an end to the conflict. Senator Ted Kennedy said: “Our armed forces are serving ably in Iraq under enormously difficult circumstances, and the policy of our government must be worthy of their sacrifice. Unfortunately, it is not, and the American people know it.”

Meanwhile, President George Bush yesterday warned Americans to brace for more casualties in Iraq.

“The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we have ever faced, unconstrained by any notion of common humanity and by the rules of warfare,” he said.

“No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead.”

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