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Rights Group Urges UN Security Council to Speed Up Darfur Force

Human Rights Watch is urging the United Nations Security Council to move quickly on a U.N. protection force for the Sudanese region of Darfur.

The group says a new military offensive in South Darfur, launched by the Sudanese government against rebels, is placing civilians at grave risk.

The organization said recent attacks in South Darfur are a violation of the laws of war, and displaced thousands of civilians who had sought safety there.

U.N. peacekeeping official Hedi Annabi on Wednesday briefed the Security Council on two options for a mission that would replace an African Union force unable to stop the fighting in Darfur.

He said one plan calls for strong ground forces, while the other envisions a greater reliance on air power.

Earlier this week, the African Union presented Darfur's warring factions with a draft peace agreement.

Mediators are pressing Sudan's government and rebel groups to end three years of fighting and violence that has displaced two million people and killed tens of thousands of others.

The AU has set a Sunday deadline for the sides to reach an agreement.