UN-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi drew up plans for the deployment of a 3000-strong peacekeeping force to the embattled country, Britain's Telegraph reported Saturday.
According to the report, the veteran Algerian diplomat who replaced former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last month, spent recent weeks sounding out which countries would be willing to contribute soldiers.
The Telegraph claimed that Brahimi primarily focused on nations currently contributing to Unifil, set up to monitor Israel's border with Lebanon, which among others include Germany, France, Spain Italy, and Ireland.
Given the growing presence of Islamists within the ranks of Syria's rebel opposition, the report claimed that British and American forces would likely be excluded from taking part. The Telegraph
also cited the two countries' past involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as further reason.
Brahimi is again set to visit Syria shortly to try to persuade President Bashar Assad to call a ceasefire, the absence of which diplomatic sources said has caused his office to consider the peacekeeping option in a "very serious" manner.
Meanwhile, AFP, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, on Saturday reported that at least 33,082 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began in March 2011.
According to the report, the British-based rights group estimates that 23,630 civilians have been killed, along with 8,211 soldiers and 1,241 defectors; approximately 1,000 people were killed in the past five days alone.
"This is all-out war - there is no other way to describe the violence in Syria," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman was quoted by AFP as declaring.
"If the conflict ends and a full assessment is carried out on the ground, the toll may well turn out to be higher," Abdel Rahman said.
The Observatory relies on a network of activists, lawyers and medics on the ground inside Syria for its information.