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Iraq War Anniversary Rallies and Vigils Around the Keystone State Today

March 19, 2008

Pittsburgh, PA – Starting at the break of dawn today, grassroots groups are taking to the streets of Philadelphia and cities around the state for all-day actions to mark the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war. Petitions are being circulated, and rallies and vigils held, to focus on the cost of those five years, both in terms of lives and money.

Robin Stelly with Penn Action, one of the groups involved, says that, with an economic recession developing domestically, the timing is right to bring U.S. involvement in Iraq to an end.

"We have problems we have to fix in the United States. We have to stop bleeding money into Iraq, and we have to stop bleeding blood. We have to bring our soldiers home."

Stelly says the Iraq war has already cost American taxpayers more than $500 billion. Almost 4,000 U.S. troops have died, along with tens of thousands of Iraqis.

Supporters of the Iraq action say bringing the troops home too soon could lead to a civil war in Iraq, which would result in even more instability in that part of the world.

Stelly says several polls have shown the Iraqi government, and the Iraqi people, want the troops to leave. She believes their wishes should be acknowledged.

"Giving Iraq back to the Iraqis is tough for us, because they're going to make decisions that we don't like. But that's what we have to do."

At least 15 events are taking place throughout the day and throughout the state, including rush-hour rallies, vigils, and presentations.

American troop casualty statistics are available online, at icasualties.org/oif. Information on war costs by state also is tabulated by the National Priorities Project, and can be viewed at www.nationalpriorities.org

Deborah Smith/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - PA