A veteran Norwegian peacekeeper is heading to Damascus to take charge of a UN mission overseeing a shaky ceasefire.
Major-General Robert Mood was already en route on Saturday morning to the Syrian capital when Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, publicly announced his appointment, diplomats said. He takes over a mission that faces major obstacles and doubts before the full 300-member force approved by the UN Security Council has even gathered.
Mood knows Damascus well and was there to negotiate conditions for an advance team of UN observers. He was head of the UN Truce Supervision Organisation, which monitors Middle East ceasefires, from 2009 until 2011. He was also twice part of the international force in Kosovo between 1999 and 2002.
Mood said that when he was asked to lead the advanced team, "it was an easy choice to say yes." "It's worth making the effort," Mood said about the mission and the peace plan that Annan clinched with the Assad government. "The Syrian people deserve to have an opportunity."