"BRUSSELS, Feb 4 (Reuters) - The European Union's military mission to Chad is on hold because of the rebels' push into the capital N'djamena, but the bloc still intends to deploy it, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said on Monday.
The EU had planned to start deploying the 3,700-strong mission last Friday to protect civilians in eastern Chad from a spillover of violence from the Darfur region in neighbouring Sudan.
But it suspended the move when a column of rebels stormed into the capital and tried to overthrow President Idriss Deby.
"Of course we are not going to continue deployment ... we stopped it in the last few days in order to see how the situation evolves on the ground," Solana told reporters.
"The situation is still not clear ... but we continue to keep the operation alive."
Thousands of civilians fled the Chadian capital on Monday after rebel forces pulled back from the city following two days of street fighting and an attack on the presidential palace.
"These events prove the need for an operation of the nature we have decided, not only for Chad but also for relations between Chad and Sudan," Solana said.
Chad says the rebel attack was backed by Sudan. Khartoum has denied this.
A spokesman for the EU force said the mission's commanders hoped to resume the deployment quickly but this would depend on the situation on the ground.
"As of now, no flights are foreseen for today," Lieutenant Colonel Philippe de Cussac told Reuters from the mission's Paris headquarters.
"We will take a decision in the hours or days to come. The operation is maintained and we hope that the deployment, which has just been suspended, can resume quickly," de Cussac said in a telephone interview.
The mission's mandate -- to protect refugees from Darfur, displaced Chadians and aid workers in eastern Chad -- will not change, he said. (Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Tim Pearce)"http://africa.reuters.com/wire/news/usnL04446851.html