U.N. aims to triple Syria observer team next week

(AP) GENEVA - The United Nations hopes to have 30 cease-fire monitors in Syria next week and plans are already being made for the deployment of up to 300, a spokesman for international envoy Kofi Annan said Friday, as France called on the international community to prepare for the possible failure of the increasingly fragile peace deal.

Seven observers are on the ground and another two will arrive on Monday, said Annan's spokesman.

"During the course of next week we hope that those that we are seconding from missions in the area who can move quickly will be there and we will make the numbers up to 30," Ahmad Fawzi told reporters in Geneva.

The preliminary agreement between Syria and the United Nations on the deployment of U.N. observers says they will have freedom to go anywhere in the country by foot or by car, take pictures, and use technical equipment to monitor compliance with the cease-fire engineered by Annan.

But the issue of using helicopters and aircraft will likely dominate discussions in the coming days, Fawzi told The Associated Press.

The larger contingent of up to 300 also still needs to be approved by the U.N. Security Council.

"As soon as the Security Council adopts a resolution authorizing up to 300 monitors on the ground, we will be ready to deploy very, very rapidly," Fawzi said.

"We are preparing for the deployment because we feel that it is going to happen sooner or later because it must happen," he added

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In France, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe called on the international community to live up to its responsibilities and warned that if Annan's peace plan "doesn't function, we have to envisage other methods."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accused Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday of failing to honor the peace plan that went into effect a week ago.

Juppe said on France's BFM television that his country would support a U.S.-backed proposal for a U.N. arms embargo and other tough measures against Syria.

The peace plan is "the last chance before civil war. ... We don't have the right to wait," he said.


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