CHICAGO – More than 70 demonstrations were planned across the U.S. on Saturday to protest the Trump administration’s killing of a top Iranian general and decision to send about 3,000 more soldiers to the Middle East.

The protests are being spearheaded by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, a U.S.-based anti-war coalition, in conjunction with more than a dozen organizations. The coalition is demanding that the U.S. withdraw all troops from Iraq and end what it says is a war on Iran, according to spokesperson Walter Smolarek.

Demonstrations were expected to happen outside the White House, in New York City’s Times Square and more. Actress Jane Fonda, who has been organizing weekly protests against political inaction on climate change, was expected to join the demonstration in D.C.

In Berlin, at least a couple dozen people demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy, near Brandenburg Gate. Organizers did not immediately provide an official crowd estimate.

“The targeted assassination and murder of a central leader of Iran is designed to initiate a new war. Unless the people of the United States rise up and stop it, this war will engulf the whole region and could quickly turn into a global conflict of unpredictable scope and potentially the gravest consequences,” ANSWER said on its website.

Timeline: How tensions escalated with Iran since Trump withdrew US from nuclear deal 

The Pentagon launched an airstrike Thursday night that killed a powerful Iranian military leader, Gen. Qasem Soleimani, at Baghdad’s international airport. The Defense Department said it conducted the attack as a “defensive action” against Soleimani, who it said was planning further attacks on American diplomats and service members. 

President Donald Trump has denied accusations that the assassination was designed to start a war with Iran. “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” he said Friday.

This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, early, Jan. 3, 2020. (Photo: Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office via AP)

Some demonstrations against U.S. actions began Friday night. Dozens of protesters gathered outside Sen. Chuck Schumer’s apartment in Brooklyn, New York. In Memphis, about eight protesters gathered in a popular entertainment district.

Kole Oakes, candidate member with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, said the Memphis protests had already been planned due to the siege of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. However, they took on a new sense of urgency when a U.S. airstrike killed Soleimani, he said.

“We’re hoping to convey that the Iraqi people, the Irani people are not our enemies, that they are our brothers and sisters in the struggle and it is the imperialist capitalist system that is our enemy,” Oakes said. 

Organizers could not say how many people were expected to attend the protests Saturday, but Facebook events suggest that hundreds of people planned to participate. More than 1,500 people indicated interest in Facebook events for protests in Chicago and San Francisco, along with nearly 700 people for protests in Madison, Wisconsin, and in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“We’re having the protest to say no to war and to bring the troops home from Iraq,” said Anamaria Meneses, an organizer with the Justice Center en El Barrio, ANSWER’s New York City branch. “Our tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on killing people abroad. We should stand against senseless wars.”

‘I want to have peace.’ How Trump went from a vow to avoid conflict to an order to kill Iran general

The ANSWER coalition formed in the wake of 9/11, organizing demonstrations against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that drew hundreds of thousands of protesters. While it has since led some of the biggest and most successful protests in the U.S., the coalition is not without its critics. Some groups have accused the coalition of supporting anti-Semitism; others have scrutinized its approach to supporting the rights of undocumented immigrants.

The protests come after several days of escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran that started with the killing of an American contractor.

It’s also the latest in a broader beef between the two nations, including President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear pact in 2018 and subsequent sanctions he imposed on Iran in order to make them come to a new deal.

Thousands of Iranians protested against the U.S. airstrike in the nation’s capital, Friday, shouting “death to America.” Meanwhile, dozens of people in Iraq and Syria sang and danced to celebrate the general’s death.

Iran ambassador to UN: ‘The response for a military action is military action’

Democrats warn against ‘march’ to war: Trump orders killing of Qasem Soleimani

Contributing: Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY; Katherine Burgess, The Commercial Appeal. Wu reported from Washington, D.C.; Burgess reported from Memphis.

Protesters demonstrate over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qasem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 3, 2020. Iran has vowed “harsh retaliation” for the U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport that killed Tehran’s top general and the architect of its interventions across the Middle East, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing. (Photo: Vahid Salemi, AP)

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