A veteran peacekeeper flew in Sunday to take command of U.N. observers in Syria who urged all sides to respect a more than two-week-old ceasefire that has been violated with bloodshed each day. Major General Robert Mood, a 54-year-old Norwegian who negotiated with Syrian authorities the conditions for the deployment of an advance team,arrived to Damascus airport in the afternoon. The general brings to his new position extensive command experience and knowledge of peacekeeping attained through service at the national and international levels, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said when announcing the appointment.
Mood was head of the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization, which monitors Middle East truces, from 2009 until 2011.
The general has not spoken publicly since he was nominated on Friday, but highlighted the abyss of suspicion and violence between the Syrian regime and the opposition in a recent interview with Norwegian media.
Mood said that when he was asked to lead the advanced team, it was an easy choice to say yes.
As he landed, at least eight more people were killed on Sunday, including four soldiers who died in a bomb blast in the northern province of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
U.N. observers said that it was extremely important that all sides respect a promised ceasefire in Syria as the veteran peacekeeper flew in to take command after a new day of bloodshed.
A mission spokesman said that an advance party of truce observers had already set up base in the major trouble spots in the 13-month conflict.
He said it was a matter of the utmost urgency for the world body to expand the fledgling mission to the full 300 personnel authorized by the Security Council.
Meanwhile, the U.N. observers struggling to shore up a shaky cease-fire in Syria visited the embattled neighborhood in the central city of Homs Sunday, the Syrian state news agency said.
State newspapers Tishrin and Ath-Thawra on Sunday claimed that Al-Qaeda was operating in Syria and carrying out its trademark suicide car bombings with the support of Washington and some Arab countries.