updated 8/6/2006 12:52:02 AM ET 2006-08-06T04:52:02

“Peace Mom” Cindy Sheehan and 14 other U.S. anti-war activists on Saturday joined Iraqi lawmakers in demanding a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

The activists, representing the largest U.S. anti-war coalition, have been in Jordan since Thursday for talks with the Iraqi parliament members. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to meet the activists during last month’s talks with President Bush in Washington.

“I’m optimistic that the majority of the American people want a withdrawal sooner, rather than later,” said Tom Hayden, a former California state senator.

About half the activists will head to Syria on Sunday and then to Lebanon to “assess the humanitarian crisis” caused by 25 days of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militants. Neither Sheehan nor Hayden will go to Syria and Lebanon.

Sheehan’s, soldier son, Casey, died in Iraq in 2004. Her monthlong war protest near President Bush’s ranch last summer attracted more than 10,000 demonstrators.

Hayden suggested the Lebanon conflict may be “a desperate effort by the Israeli and U.S. neoconservatives to escalate their way out of defeat in Iraq before the November elections” in the United States.

“Are they trying to scramble and subdivide the whole Middle East? Do they hope this escalates into a conflict with Syria and Iran which some of them want,” he said.

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