UN envoy to Syria draws up plan for 3,000 strong peacekeeping force in country

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 14, 2012 09:00 hrs

United Nation's envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi is reportedly drawing up plans for forming a 3,000-strong peacekeeping force that could involve European troops in policing a future truce in that county.

Brahimi, the veteran Algerian diplomat who took over as joint United Nations and Arab League peace envoy last month, has spent recent weeks quietly sounding out which countries would be willing to contribute soldiers.

According to The Telegraph, given the volatility of the conflict and the growing presence of Islamists on the rebel side, it is thought that British and American forces would be unlikely to take part because of their past involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Instead, Brahimi is thought to be looking at more nations that currently contribute to Unifil, the 15,000 strong mission set up to police Israel's borders with Lebanon.

They alone are thought to have the infrastructure and on-the-ground knowledge that any peacekeeping operation would require.

Countries contributing to Unifil include Ireland, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, one of which would be expected to play a leading role in the Syria peacekeeping force.

Yet the presence of any European on the ground in Syria, even from nations considered more "neutral" in the Arab world, would still represent a significant new Western military involvement in the Middle East, the report said.

Details of Brahimi's plans emerged as he arrived in Istanbul on Saturday for talks aimed at quelling rising tensions between Syria and Turkey.

According to the report, already he is understood to have ruled out the use of African troops, who he believes would not be adequately resourced, and troops from neighbouring Arab states, most of which are seen as supporting the rebels.

"Brahimi has asked for the lists of troop contributing countries, and has already ruled out a number of countries, which essentially leaves European troops," a source said.

"He is looking at all options and not putting all his eggs in the peacekeeping basket, but all information points to him exploring the peacekeeping option in a very serious manner," he added. (ANI)

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