Thousands in Athens march against US-led Syria strikes

Thousands in Athens march against US-led Syria strikes
A protest organised by the Communist party in Athens is protesting the US-led strikes against the Syrian regime.
3 min read
15 April, 2018
The US, UK and France launched airstrikes against the Assad regime [Getty]
Thousands of Greeks marched in central Athens in a protest organised by the Communist Party to protest the US-led airstrikes against Syria.

Police say about 6,000 to 7,000 people gathered on Saturday at Athens' central Syntagma Square before marching to the US Embassy, chanting anti-US slogans and carrying banners. Some wrote on the pavement in red paint: "Americans, murderers of people."

A wave of punitive strikes were launched by the US, Britain and France against Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime on Saturday in response to alleged chemical weapons attacks that President Donald Trump branded the "crimes of a monster".

The strikes are the biggest foreign military action so far against the Syrian regime. Western officials said a barrage of cruise and air-to-land missiles hit targets near Damascus and in Homs province.

In Athens, police vehicles barricaded access to the embassy and protesters left peacefully.

Dimitris Koutsoumbas, the Communist Party's leader, blasted Greek politicians for believing "flimsy excuses about a use of chemical weapons" by Syria. He also criticised their "subservience" to the EU and NATO, as well as their support for Israel.

US-led strikes hit targets near Damascus 

He told the crowd "the imperialists once again spill the blood of the local people. They destroy and splinter states by using fabricated evidence".

At least 49 people died in the suspected chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta according to medical groups and rescuers, with other estimates reaching over a hundred.

Graphic images and videos emerged on social media following Douma's alleged gas attack, showing children struggling to breathe and entire families who had succumbed to the attack on the floors of underground shelters.

Both Syria and Russia have denied using chemical weapons and have blamed the rebels on using it on themselves to whip up international condemnation.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his supporters have consistently claimed that chemical and other attacks were in fact staged, and that an army of actors including children has been trained to fake injury on a massive scale.

The Syrian regime has repeatedly used chemical weapons during the war, with Human Rights Watch claiming Assad's forces were responsible for the majority of 85 confirmed chemical weapons attacks.

Earlier in the year, a report linked Syria's largest sarin nerve agent attack in August 2013, which left hundreds dead, to the Syrian regime chemical stockpile.

Damascus joined the OPCW and agreed to destroy its 1,300-tonne stockpile of industrial munition, under Russia's supervision, following a US-Russian deal.

Despite agreeing to the deal, inspectors have found evidence of an ongoing chemical weapons programme in the country, including systematic use of chlorine barrel bombs and sarin.

Eastern Ghouta has been under a ruthless seven-week assault that devastated the area and killed more than 1,700 civilians, allowing Assad's forces to gain control of more than 90 percent of the former rebel stronghold.

Around 500,000 people have died and millions made homeless in seven years of fighting in Syria, which was sparked when regime forces brutally put down peaceful protests in 2011.