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US Protesters Demonstrate For and Against Iraq War

Americans who are for and against the war in Iraq continue to mark the fourth anniversary of the conflict by demonstrating and speaking to the news media in cities around the country. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel has details from Washington.

Following days of public protests, groups for and against continuing the war in Iraq held dueling news conferences here in Washington.

Debbie Argel Bastian is with an organization called Move America Forward that backs President Bush and his policy of sending in more troops to quell sectarian violence in Baghdad.

Bastian's son Derek, an Air Force captain, was killed in Iraq two years ago.

"People are tired of undermining the troops," said Debbie Argel Bastian. "So we are going to speak loud and clear and we are going to keep this campaign going as long as it takes. We are going to send the message to our troops that we love them, we care about them and we will not abandon them."

On Monday, Move America Forward launched what the group calls its "Win in Iraq" campaign with a new commercial it says will run on television channels throughout the United States.

"The choice is clear, we win in Iraq [sound of explosion] or we face the terrorists here in America."

The commercial is highly likely to be controversial since it ends with a nuclear explosion over an American city.

Joe Wierzbicki, a spokesman for the group, offers no apologies for the provocative ad.

"If we fail in the war on terrorism, we face a far greater possibility of weapons of mass destruction being used against an American city," said Joe Wierzbicki. "The reason we tie this danger to the war in Iraq is because the terrorists do."

A short time later on Capitol Hill anti-war activists complained that U.S. servicemen returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are not getting proper medical attention.

Recent media reports detailed poor conditions and substandard care for soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

Stacy Bannerman's husband Lorin returned from Iraq and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"For dozens of our soldiers it has been too late," said Stacy Bannerman. "They have killed themselves, committed suicide, they are drinking and drugging and homeless. Families are falling apart. Our troops are not being taken care of and it is shredding the fabric of families across this country."

Nancy Lessin's step-son served as a Marine in Iraq. She is co-founder of the anti-war group Military Families Speak Out.

She urged members of the U.S. Congress to cut funding for the conflict.

"We are calling on Congress to use the one power it has, the power of the purse, to bring this misbegotten war to an end," said Nancy Lessin. "Congress now has the opportunity to cut off all the funds for continuing the war in Iraq and commencing a fully funded safe and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. It appears that this is an opportunity Congress is now preparing to squander."

The House of Representatives is preparing to debate a proposal linking emergency war funds to a withdrawal of troops from Iraq by September 2008. A similar measure was narrowly defeated in the Senate.