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Rallies held in D.C. to support troops | (UPI) -- As part of a "Pro-America Rally," about 400 activists, most of them young, gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol on Saturday to show support for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The event was sponsored by two conservative groups, the Citizens United Foundation and the Young Americans Foundation, with the gathering intended to let U.S. troops know that there are many Americans, including many young people, who stand with them in the conflict in Iraq, according to the groups.

Rally participant Chris Ranallo, 37, said: "I support the troops. I came here because of all the negative publicity from anti-war protests and news broadcasts."

Ranallo said he doesn't think the war is over, although U.S.-led forces essentially control. He said he hoped that the Iraqi people, along with aid workers, can rebuild the Arab nation into one that is free and at peace with its neighbors.

Michael Thalor, also at the rally, said: "I feel strongly that the war has a solid moral basis, it's a very just war, and a large number of innocent Iraqi civilians would have been murdered in the future."

He said that with Baghdad having fallen to coalition forces, it appears as though the Iraqi regime has fallen as well.

Thalor said the U.S. and coalition forces need to eliminate remaining pockets of resistance throughout the country, and follow it up by establishing law and order once the war ends.

Erin Murphy, 19 a member of the National College Republican National Committee, and a sophomore studying political science at American University in Washington, said she attended the rally to support the troops and to counter the anti-war protests that were taking place in Washington and elsewhere.

She added: "This war is by no means over, the hardest battles have already been fought."

Murphy was in a class when the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad, but finally got to see a re-run of it. She said she felt that once the statue had fallen, it appeared to her that the war was almost over. She also said the reconstruction effort is not going to be a easy because the objectives are not clearly defined like military objectives are.

Aziz Altae, the chairman of the Iraqi-American Council in the nation's capital, said of the now-famous fall of Saddam's statue in Baghdad, "the truth always prevails, lies always fall."

He said the Iraqi people have been freed from a tyrannical and oppressive regime.

According to Altae, the Iraqi-American Council is a non-profit organization, founded in 1998, whose main goal is to empower Iraqi-Americans to participate in American democracy.

Altae said: "I want to thank the American people for giving freedom and liberty to Iraq, and to support the troops."

He added that his group hopes there will be a transition period of 18 months during which technocrats and U.S. military personnel should run Iraq. He hopes peace negotiations involving Israel and the Palestinians would improve now that Saddam has fallen.

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