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Russia studying Syria peacekeeper proposal
Russia says will study Arab League proposal for joint peacekeeping mission in Syria
By The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) ' Russia's foreign minister says his country will study an Arab League proposal for a joint peacekeeping mission in Syria with the United Nations.

However, Sergey Lavrov said Monday that a cease-fire would have to be declared before any such mission could be deployed.

"We should first have peace, which would be supported," Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The Arab League made the proposal for the joint peacekeeping mission Sunday. The Syrian government quickly rejected the idea.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BEIRUT (AP) ' An activist group says Syrian rebels have repelled a push by government tanks into a key central town held by forces fighting against President Bashar Assad's regime.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says Monday's attempt to storm Rastan left at least three soldiers dead. Rastan has been held by the rebels since late January.

Calls to town's residents are not getting through. The telephone lines appear to be cut as they usually are during military operations.

The attack comes a day after the Arab League called for the Security Council to create a joint Arab-U.N. peacekeeping force for Syria and urged Arab states to sever all diplomatic contact with Damascus.

Assad's crackdown of the 11-month Syrian uprising has killed more than 5,400 people, according to the U.N.

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