U.N. plans for Syria peacekeeping force

Oct. 23, 2012 at 1:28 PM
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UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- U.N. officials are planning for a possible peacekeeping force in Syria in case a political deal or a cease-fire is reached, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said.

"I would confirm that, of course, we are giving a lot of thought to what would happen if and when a political solution or at least a cease-fire would emerge," Herve Ladsous, undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York.

Ladsous said it was too soon to say how many peacekeepers would be deployed in such a force.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported 97 deaths across the country Tuesday, including four women and seven children. The London group said 34 people were killed in Damascus, 29 in Aleppo, 10 in Deir Alzor, 11 in Idlip, seven in Daraa, four in Homs and one in Alqunaitra.

Any U.N. peacekeeping force would need a green light from the 15-member Security Council.

The council is deeply divided over Syria, with Russia and China vetoing three resolutions supported by the West and Arab countries that called for an end to the Syrian violence because they threatened sanctions against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi met with Assad in Damascus Sunday to press for a truce during the four-day Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, which begins Friday. He earlier met with opposition groups.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency said the regime supported a holiday truce but only if pro-rebel Western and Arab countries stop providing weapons to anti-Assad fighters.

Rebels told Brahimi they too wanted to honor the truce but would not make a commitment, Brahimi said.

The important religious holiday is celebrated by Muslims worldwide to honor the willingness of Ibrahim, known in the Judeo-Christian tradition as Abraham, to sacrifice his son Ismail, or Ishmael, as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a sheep to sacrifice instead.

The Arab League asked the Security Council Feb. 12 to send a peacekeeping mission to Syria to "supervise the execution of a cease-fire." It also urged the league's members to "halt all forms of diplomatic cooperation" with the Assad regime.

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