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UNITED NATIONS: Peace force for Syria eyed

The UN is already planning for a peacekeeping force in Syria should a cease-fire take hold and pending a Security Council mandate, peacekeeping chief Hervé Ladsous said Monday. He said, however, it was too early to say how many peacekeepers might be deployed in such an eventual force. At the Syrian border Monday, a Jordanian soldier was killed in clashes with armed militants trying to cross illegally into Syria. Sectarian clashes overnight in Lebanon left four dead as Syria's civil war spilled over.

BRITAIN: 3 go to trial in terror plot

Three young British Muslim men went on trial in London on Monday, accused of plotting to set off multiple bombs in terrorist strikes that prosecutors say could have been deadlier than the 2005 London transit attacks. Prosecutors allege that the men, fired up by the sermons of a U.S.-born al-Qaida preacher, hoped to cause carnage on a mass scale. But their plot was undone by mishaps with money and logistics, and ended in a police counterterrorism swoop last year. Prosecution lawyer Brian Altman told a jury that Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali, both 27, and Irfan Naseer, 31, were central players in terrorist attack plot.

MALI: France to send two drones

France will move two surveillance drones to West Africa and is holding secretive talks with U.S. officials in Paris this week as it seeks to steer international military action to help Mali's feeble government win back the country's north from al-Qaida-linked rebels, The Associated Press has learned. France and the United Nations insist any invasion of Mali's north must be led by African troops. But France, which has six hostages in Mali and has citizens who have joined al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, is playing an increasing role behind the scenes. Many fear that northeast Mali and the arid Sahel region could become the new Afghanistan, a no man's land where extremists can train and plot terror attacks abroad. And France, former colonial ruler to countries across the Sahel, is a prime target.

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