Syria Live Blog
Top UN peacekeepers in Damascus for talks
The new commander for the 300-member UN observer force, Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, spoke to reporters on Wednesday, after arriving earlier in Damascus.
Herve Ladsous, the United Nations official in charge of peacekeeping operations, arrived on Tuesday, and the two will hold a series of meetings to assess the prospects for a United Nations peace plan that is being widely ignored.
Speaking at a news conference at their hotel on Wednesday, Ladsous told reporters "The mission operates on a reduced basis - reduced in numbers, reduced in team sites in the province - and does what it can, but of course taking into account the security situation, which in many places is extremely delicate."
"We are back, with the hope that reason will prevail, that there will be in this tunnel some light that we can seize, and obtain less violence," Gaye added.
Gaye, who is Senegalese, replaces Major General Robert Mood as head of UNSMIS (United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria).
Ladsous was sent to Syria by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, after the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution on Friday renewing the 300-strong UN observer force there for 30 days.
The resolution was a lifeline for the unarmed observers who were sent to Syria three months ago to monitor a cease-fire that never happened.
The Syrian regime, deeply shaken after last week's stunning attack on President Bashar Assad's inner circle and by rebel advances, has turned to heavy weapons like artillery and helicopter gunships to uproot the opposition fighters in Damascus and now in Aleppo, Syria's largest city at around three million (m) people.
Activists estimate that 19-thousand people have died in the escalating violence since March 2011. [AP]