* Syria mediator has proposed Eid al-Adha ceasefire
* UN Security Council needs to approve peacekeepers
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 22 The United Nations is
preparing various contingency plans to send peacekeepers to
Syria as part of a ceasefire or political deal, but it is too
early say how many would be needed, U.N. peacekeeping chief
Herve Ladsous said on Monday.
The U.N.-Arab League mediator in the Syria conflict, Lakhdar
Brahimi, is attempting to persuade the Syrian government and
rebels to accept a ceasefire during the three-day Islamic
holiday of Eid al-Adha that starts on Friday.
If there were a more sustained ceasefire, the U.N.
Department of Peacekeeping Operations has told Brahimi it could
put together a force of up to 3,000 monitors to keep fighters
separated and maintain the truce, diplomats 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 ceasefire would emerge," Ladsous, the U.N.
under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, told
"There are a number of hypotheses, but I think at this stage
one can only say that it certainly would be premature to mention
a figure because it would depend on the situation and on the
tasks," he said.
Brahimi's suggested Eid al-Adha truce would be self-imposed,
with no monitoring. Sending any U.N. monitors to Syria would
require a U.N. Security Council mandate.
But Syrian rebels cast doubt on Monday on prospects for a
temporary truce, saying it was not clear how an informal
ceasefire this week could be implemented.
Neither Syria's army nor the rebels have shown signs of
easing off as Eid nears. More than 200 people were killed on
Sunday in fighting and bombardments, including 60 soldiers, the
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Brahimi, who took over from Kofi Annan after the former U.N.
secretary-general resigned in frustration in August, has been
traveling in the Middle East urging key regional powers to use
Brahimi said last week that a respite in hostilities could
build confidence and help bring about a longer truce in the
19-month-old conflict. A previous ceasefire in April collapsed
after just a few days, with each side blaming the other.
"Right now the focus is really on Lakhdar Brahimi's efforts
to achieve a ceasefire whether temporary or more durable,"
Ladsous said. "It's a shocking fact that everyday 150 to 200
civilians are killed and it has almost become part of the
background noise and it is simply unacceptable."
"Depending on changes on the ground and on the decision by
the Security Council we stand ready to assist further," he said.
Under Annan's failed truce, some 300 monitors and around 100
civilian experts began deploying to Syria in April to oversee a
ceasefire that was never realized. As the conflict worsened, the
Security Council allowed the force's mandate to lapse and the
unarmed monitoring team withdrew in August.