Italy's Cabinet has approved sending up to 17 unarmed troops to participate in the U.N. observer mission for Syria.

A statement Tuesday from the office of Premier Mario Monti said the first five are expected to be on the ground by next week.

The U.N. Security Council has authorized up to 300 unarmed observers to try to help end the conflict in Syria, where the government has waged a brutal crackdown on a popular uprising for more than a year. About 65 are said to be on the ground.