UN sending chemical weapons kits to Syria monitors

The United Nations is sending chemical weapons kits to UN troops in the Golan Heights because of growing fears over Syria's chemical arsenal, officials said Monday.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous briefed the UN Security Council on Monday on efforts to bolster safety for the UN force, which monitors a ceasefire zone between Syria and Israel, after five troops were injured in attacks.

"We have taken measures to enhance security," Ladsous told reporters after the meeting.

"For those personnel who are not equipped on a national basis we are sending them some kits to protect them from chemical attack, if that were to happen," Ladsous said.

Extra armored cars have also been sent from other missions to the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which has been monitoring a ceasefire between Israel and Syria since 1974.

There are about 1,000 unarmed troops from Austria, Croatia, India, Japan and Philippines in UNDOF. The Indian troops, at least, are known not to have chemical weapon protection.

Five Austrians were wounded, two seriously, when a convoy taking force members from the Golan Heights to Damascus airport came under attack earlier this month. There have been a number of incidents in the ceasefire zone this year.

"There have been increasing difficulties fulfilling its mandate," Ladsous said. "The multiplication of incidents is really a concern."

The United States said earlier this month that it had intelligence showing Syria was considering using its chemical weapons. US President Barack Obama led international warnings to President Bashar al-Assad over the arsenal.

Ladsous also confirmed that the United Nations is drawing up contingency plans to send a possible international force to Syria if the government collapses. The UN peacekeeping chief gave no details however.

"It is contingency planning based on a number of possible scenarios. But the work is going on," he said.

It is contingency planning based on a number of possible scenarios.