UN peacekeepers to Syria but is Assad serious about the pullback?
It's not clear whether the UN is going to send bona fide, Robin's egg blue helmeted peacekeepers or unarmed peace "monitors" to Syria to watch over compliance by the Syrian government with the terms of the cease fire to which President Assad has agreed.
Whatever they are, they are going to have their hands full.
An advance U.N. team is due to arrive in Syria within 48 hours to discuss the deployment of peacekeepers in a bid to halt violence from the government's year-long crackdown on dissent.
A spokesman for U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan made the announcement Tuesday, saying the group would work out the details of deploying international monitors to Damascus.
The announcement comes a day after Annan said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had agreed to begin pulling out his forces from opposition protest hubs and complete the pullout by April 10.
U.N. diplomats say President Assad also agreed to several "immediate" steps including a cessation of troop movements toward population centers and the start of a withdrawal of soldiers and heavy weapons already in such areas.
The cease-fire proposal is part of a peace plan drafted by Annan last month and later endorsed by a U.N. Security Council statement. The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began a year ago.
In spite of the plan, government attacks have continued with scattered violence reported on Tuesday.
There are still a thousand things that can go wrong before we can be sure Assad is serious about talking to the opposition. I give this thing 48 hours before the entire rickety edifice collapses and its back to square one. Will Assad allow the "peacekeepers" to be armed? Otherwise, they're sitting ducks. Will he allow them to go into cities like Homs and Hama that are still hotbeds of rebel activity?
Somehow, I don't see the Syrian dictator allowing this sort of thing, which means the fighting will go on.