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Thousands protest against Syria airstrikes

Thousands gather outside Downing Street to urge MPs not to vote for airstrikes on Syria. Credit: PA

Thousands of protesters have gathered outside Downing Street to urge MPs to vote against airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria.

They were joined by actor Mark Rylance, former MP George Galloway and musician Brian Eno, who all addressed the crowds.

The event was organised by Stop the War Coalition as David Cameron gave his strongest hint yet that he will call a vote on airstrikes despite opposition from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Rylance said he feared bombing in Syria would make the extremist group stronger:

You can't just write these people off as psychopaths and sociopaths. Some of them may be but some of them are just very, very angry, determined people.

We need to look more deeply at the causes rather than just blow the place to smithereens.

I fear we may be playing right into what they want - bombing more civilians and therefore helping them recruit more desperate young men with no other way in responding in their grief than by fighting back.

– Mark Rylance
Thousands gathered to urge MP to vote against airstrikes. Credit: PA

The shadow international development secretary Diane Abbott told protesters the Prime Minister had been contacting Labour MPs to persuade them to vote for the air strikes.

At this point, I do not believe that bombing Syria will make it safe, any more than bombing Iraq made Iraq safe, bombing Afghanistan made Afghanistan safe and bombing Libya made Libya safe.

I believe and I hope under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, Labour MPs in Parliament will do the right thing.

– Diane Abott
Protesters outside Downing Street. Credit: PA

Meanwhile Mr Eno said joining air strikes on IS in Syria would "make all their dreams come true".

The Labour shadow cabinet is divided over the issue - some reacting furiously to a letter sent by Corbyn saying he would not support any bombing.

But a series shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn and deputy leader Tom Watson, have said they would back air strikes.

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