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Iraq Journals

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Wednesday, August 13

Coalition starts drive to bring troops home from Iraq

By Greg Wright | GNS

WASHINGTON - A coalition of family members, peace activists and veterans groups launched a long-shot campaign Wednesday to recall U.S. troops from war-torn Iraq.

Members of the Bring Them Home Now campaign told reporters that President Bush lied about reasons for going to war. No weapons of mass destruction have been found and Bush has not proved a link between former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaida terrorists, the group said.

And U.S. soldiers have become targets of Iraqis who consider them invaders, not liberators. The Pentagon said 267 troops have died in Iraq as of Aug. 13, including 58 from hostile fire after Bush declared major hostilities ended May 1.

``I am here because I feel my son passed away in an illegal war,'' said Fernando Suarez del Solar, whose son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jesus Suarez del Solar, 20, was killed March 27 in Iraq.

``It is not fair that all those young men are exposed to dying day by day,'' Suarez del Solar said before he broke down in tears.

The campaign, which claims a membership of 600 families, plans to lobby lawmakers to bring back troops from Iraq. Some coalition members said the odds of recalling U.S. soldiers are slim, but they hope opposition to Iraq's occupation could become a campaign issue during the 2004 presidential and congressional elections.

White House officials were not immediately available for comment. But Vice President Dick Cheney said Tuesday that U.S. troops will stay in Iraq as long as it takes to search for weapons of mass destruction and stabilize the country.

Although hundreds of soldiers were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, Cheney said their sacrifice has deterred more terrorist attacks against the United States.

``But remember, we lost some 3,000 Americans here at home on Sept. 11,'' Cheney said during a reception for Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., in Albuquerque. ``And we're certainly in much better shape if we're aggressively going after the terrorists overseas and after the nations and the mechanisms that support them than if we lay back and wait to be struck again here at home.''

Some Bring Them Home Now members said the Iraq war was more for oil than to make the United States safer. Their children and spouses in Iraq also tell them that working conditions there are deplorable, with temperatures of 120 degrees, strict water rationing and a lack of equipment such as radios and trucks.

Not enough troops are in Iraq to stop assaults against U.S. soldiers, which the group says the Pentagon and media are underreporting. About 139,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq, but some critics said that number should be at least doubled.

``They are scared, and they don't have enough support,'' said Susan Schuman, whose 32-year-old son, Justin, is a Massachusetts National Guard sergeant. He was sent to Iraq March 29. Schuman said her son claims U.S. soldiers have been attacked 30 to 40 times in the area around Samarra, about 80 miles north of Baghdad.