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United Nations UN mulls 'light' options to monitor possible Syria truce

The talk about the U.N.'s role as monitor has gained urgency along with a new push for a ceasefire in Syria to take effect as early as January, in parallel to talks between the government and opposition.

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The United Nations headquarters building is pictured though a window with the UN logo in the foreground in the Manhattan borough of New York August 15, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Files play The United Nations headquarters building is pictured though a window with the UN logo in the foreground in the Manhattan borough of New York August 15, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Files

The United Nations is mulling "light touch" options for monitoring a possible ceasefire in Syria that would keep its risks to a minimum by relying largely on Syrians already on the ground, diplomatic sources said.

The U.N. Security Council on Friday unanimously called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to draw up within a month options for monitoring a ceasefire in Syria. It is the second time since the Syrian civil war broke out in March 2011 that the council backed a plan for peace talks and a truce.

The talk about the U.N.'s role as monitor has gained urgency along with a new push for a ceasefire in Syria to take effect as early as January, in parallel to talks between the government and opposition.

More than a dozen major powers, including the United States, Russia and major European and Middle Eastern powers, have drawn up a road map for Syria peace talks.

U.N. planning for truce monitoring will seek to avoid repeating the "disaster" of a mission sent to Syria in 2012, diplomats said. That operation failed because the warring parties showed no interest in halting the fighting, they said.

Under the light-touch mechanism under consideration, the United Nations would rely on Syrian actors - "proxies" - on the ground to report violations. This could possibly involve a small group of non-uniformed U.N. officials in Syria to carry out investigations of ceasefire violations, diplomats said.

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