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Thousands of Iraqis stage anti-U.S. protests


Families become human shields at presidential palace

November 10, 1997
Web posted at: 10:48 a.m. EST (1548 GMT)

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Thousands of protesters again took to the streets of the Iraqi capital on Monday as U.N. officials were considering their next step in the standoff with Baghdad.

Several thousand demonstrators attended a rally, chanting "Down with America!" and "Long live President Saddam Hussein!"

At the presidential palaces, hundreds of Iraqi families gathered to act as human shields in case of any U.S. attack, the official Iraqi news agency INA reported Monday.

CNN's Brent Sadler reports on the demonstrations
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"Hundreds of Iraqi families have expressed their readiness to stay in the ... presidential palaces in defiance of any American military aggression against these sites," the agency said.

INA said the families had gathered in front of the presidential palaces to confirm their readiness to "sacrifice for their country and leader Saddam Hussein."

The Baghdad protesters marched to the local headquarters of the ruling Baath party, not knowing whether their leader's latest acts of defiance would lead the country into military confrontation.

School children, some of them dressed in paramilitary uniforms, joined the rally, and teachers helped stir up emotions.


A senior government official took to the stage, telling observers that this was the unified voice of Iraq's people: expressing support for Saddam Hussein and showing no fear.

CNN's Ben Wedeman reports on the scene at the presidential palace as hundreds of Iraqis volunteer to be human shields
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Separately, several thousand Iraqi women demonstrated at the U.N. Development Program office in Baghdad against what they called U.S. threats against Iraq.

The government newspaper al-Jumhouriya urged France, China and Russia to intervene and suspend U-2 flights until after the U.N. Security Council meeting on Iraq on Monday.

Correspondents Brent Sadler, Ben Wedeman and Reuters contributed to this report.


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