Huge demonstrations were held in major cities of the United States Saturday, marking the third anniversary of war against Iraq that toppled the Saddam Hussein regime.
The anti-war demonstrations, held in Washington DC, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and dozens of small and mid-sized cities, were organized by several groups including the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) coalition.
The demonstrations were held at a time when the anti-war sentiment in the United States is at an all-time high and the popularity of U.S. President George W. Bush, the architect of the war, has plummeted.
Demonstrators called strongly for an immediate, complete and unconditional U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.
"Public opinion is now overwhelmingly on our side as it becomes clearer every day that this occupation itself is the source of the violence in Iraq," said organizer Dustin Langley.
"But politicians of neither party are going to end the war, so we have to get back on the streets," Langley said.
The anti-war movement "is going into cities, towns and neighborhoods in decentralized actions," said ANSWER coalition national coordinator Brian Becker in a statement ahead of the protests.
Bush, in his weekly Saturday radio address, defended his decision to launch war against Iraq, and vowed to overcome violence there that has killed more than 2,300 U.S. soldiers and countless Iraqi civilians.
"We will finish the mission," said Bush. "By defeating the terrorists in Iraq, we will bring greater security to our own country."
Heavy casualties and expenditures in the three-year-old war have resulted in pessimism over Bush's Iraq policy. Bush's approval ratings have dropped to around 35 percent, according to recent polls.
A Gallup survey published Thursday showed support for keeping U. S. troops in Iraq had reached its lowest point since the outbreak of Iraq war on March 20, 2003.