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‘Hands off the Middle East’: Hundreds rally in London against British airstrikes

Hundreds of activists rallied against Britain’s involvement in airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria on Saturday. Protesters marched through central London holding banners and chanting anti-war slogans.

Demonstrators chanted “Hands off the Middle East, No justice, No peace,” which marching toward Prime Minister David Cameron’s Downing Street office, where the rally was planned to end.

They held banners which read: “Stop bombing Iraq” and “Iraq III No!”

“I think the solution to all these problems is for Britain and the US to get their nose out of the Middle East, to stop interfering and let that part of the world sort out their own problems. I think our interference has created these problems. Everything we touch in the Middle East turns to crap,” one of the demonstrators told RT. “Let’s get out as soon as possible.”

“History teaches us that when we go and bomb people, militants appear and go stronger. All that is going to happen by us going there is just get the situation worse,” another protester said.

Up to 1,000 people participated in the protest, despite pouring rain. Many shared their demonstration experiences on social media.

Organized by anti-war groups including Stop the War Coalition, the protest came in response to the UK government’s support of airstrikes against militants last week and the deployment of six Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado fighter jets to Akrotiri base in Cyprus. From there, British pilots are launching airstrikes at the Islamic State as a part of an international US-led coalition.

It also followed the release of a video by militants, which showed the execution of British aid worker Alan Henning.

“The solution is never to kill. War is a solution for nothing. The solution is a diplomatic one. We need more diplomatic effort. Today ISIS (IS) is committing atrocities, but we are really making the situation worse,” an activist told RT.

This week, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that two more British Tornado planes will join the fight against the Islamic State. He hailed British troops for the “vital work to defeat these barbaric ISIL (IS/ISIS) terrorists who threaten security.”

Cameron also announced that Britain will no longer be disbanding its II Squadron – comprising of 16 Tornados – in March as initially planned. Instead, the 102-year-old squadron will assist with airstrikes in Iraq. The squadron was originally scheduled to be disbanded following the closure of operations in Afghanistan.

Demonstrators march through London to protest British air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq