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Anti-war protesters to stage peace rally in Rome
www.chinaview.cn 2004-03-20 05:25:20

    ROME, March 19 (Xinhuanet) -- A group of Italian Carabinieri policemen who have colleagues serving in Iraq announced on Friday that they would be taking part in a major anti-war rally in Rome on Saturday.

    The Carabinieri union UNAC, which has a membership of more than 20,000, said a dozen officers would join the demonstration bearinga UNAC banner.

    "We want to avoid any kind of polemics but we are very worried and ask that our troops be withdrawn from Iraq. We want people to understand how unhappy the Carabinieri force is about this issue,"UNAC President Antonio Savino said.

    Italy has more than 2,900 troops, many of them Carabinieri police, serving in Iraq.

    A November bomb attack on Carabinieri forces in the southern Iraqi town of Nassiriya killed 19 Italians, including 12 Carabinieri policemen, causing the greatest single loss of life among Italian forces since the end of World War II.

    Tens of thousands are expected to attend Friday's rally, which marks the first anniversary of the start of the US-led war on Iraq.

    The demonstration is been organized by pacifist groups who led hundreds of thousands of Italians in demonstrations across the country on the same day last year in protest against the launch ofwar.

    Italian center-right Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi took a staunchly pro-American line on the Iraqi crisis, despite deep opposition to the war among the Italian public.

    With the conflict now over, the pacifists are renewing their condemnation of the occupation of Iraq and demanding that Italian troops be pulled out.

    Many Italian opposition lawmakers have accused Berlusconi of exposing Italy to similar dangers because of his support for US President George W. Bush. They say Italian troops should be withdrawn from Iraq.

    But Berlusconi has stressed that Italy will "stay the course" in Iraq and is even supporting Aznar's original thesis that Basque separatist terror group ETA was behind the Madrid attack. Enditem กก

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