Protests against UK’s plans to attack Syria

Ken Loach, Brian Eno and Frankie Boyle are among dozens of actors, writers, academics and trade union chiefs who have signed a letter telling David Cameron to keep British forces out of Syria. The open letter, coordinated by the” Stop the War coalition”, will be handed in at Downing Street on Saturday, when thousands are expected to gather in Whitehall in opposition to the proposed airstrikes, which the prime minister says are needed to fight Islamic State.

Nearly 8,000 people have so far indicated on Facebook that they will attend the emergency protest, which was called on Monday, while more than 20,000 have said they are interested in doing so. Very few recent protests have gathered such strong support so quickly, Stop the War has said. Smaller protests are planned in more than a dozen towns and cities in the UK. Stop the War’s letter to the prime minister says:

“The current rush to bomb Syria following the terrible events in Paris risks a dangerous escalation which will inflame the war there and increase bitterness against the west. The US has been bombing Isis for a year and admits that Isis is as strong as ever and has continued recruiting.”

“The experience of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya shows that western military interventions lead to large-scale casualties, devastating destruction and huge flows of refugees. “Far from tackling terrorism, the last 14 years of war have seen massively increased jihadi terrorist organisations around the world.”

“Rather than ignoring this recent history by joining the long list of countries that have bombed Syria in the last year, we urge the government to stop arming reactionary and aggressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and Qatar that sponsor terrorist groups and look for political solutions as the only viable way to end the conflict.”

Cameron published a written response to the Commons foreign affairs committee on Thursday making his case for airstrikes against Isis.