More than 70 protests planned across US against Soleimani strike

More than 70 protests across the country are planned for Saturday to condemn the Pentagon’s killing of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, and the decision to send thousands more troops to the Middle East.

The protests are being organized by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), a U.S.-based anti-war coalition, in cooperation with more than a dozen other anti-war groups. Protesters are expected to demonstrate outside the White House, in Times Square, at Trump Tower in Chicago and at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, among other locations. 

"The targeted assassination and murder of a central leader of Iran is designed to initiate a new war," ANSWER said on its website. "Unless the people of the United States rise up and stop it, this war will engulf the whole region and could quickly turn into a global conflict of unpredictable scope and potentially the gravest consequences."

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While it was not immediately clear how many people would attend the protests, nearly 300 people indicated interest in a Facebook event for a protest in Madison, Wis., along with nearly 200 people for protests in Chicago and Burlington, Vt.

Protesters were later seen marching throughout the U.S., chanting anti-war slogans and urging the country to withdraw troops from the Middle East.

"No war with Iran, stop the threats, stop the bombs," chanted demonstrators in Manhattan.

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"U.S. out of the Middle East, no justice, no peace," echoed protesters in Washington and Chicago.

The protests come after a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad killed Soleimani, raising the prospects of an escalating conflict between the U.S. and Iran that could expand beyond the scope of the Middle East.

Democrats in Washington expressed concerns that Iran could tap its international network of proxies, which Soleimani was in charge of directing and launching attacks on the U.S. or American interests across the globe. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded by vowing “harsh retaliation” over the attack. 

The Trump administration has defended the strike against Soleimani, who oversaw groups that have clashed with U.S. troops in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, saying he had American blood on his hands and was planning another imminent attack.