DAMASCUS, July 19 (Reuters) - Major General Robert Mood left his hotel in Damascus on Thursday to fly to Geneva after a 90-day U.N. peace monitoring mission to Syria ended, even as battles between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels raged in parts of the capital.
The observers' mandate ends on Friday, but the United Nations' 15-nation Security Council is set to decide later on Thursday whether it should be extended for 45 days.
"I leave satisfied that I, and some 400 brave women and men, have done our best, under very challenging circumstances," Mood, who led the U.N. mission, told a news conference in the Dama Rose hotel.
"For the sake of the Syrian people we need effective leadership from the Security Council and genuine unity around a political plan that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people and that is accepted by the Parties," Mood said.
"Government and opposition must be willing to make the necessary concessions and sit at the negotiating table," he added, saying there was no hope for the crisis to be resolved through fighting.
Separately, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday he was alarmed by the intensifying violence in Syria, saying he strongly condemned the bombing in Damascus on Wednesday that killed the Syrian defence minister and President Assad's brother-in-law.
Mood's farewell speech came as the U.N. Security Council was preparing to vote later on Thursday on a Western-backed resolution that threatens Syrian authorities with sanctions and is aimed at ending the 16-month conflict.
Russia, a key ally of Syria, has refused to engage in negotiations on the resolution that would extend the U.N. observer mission in Syria for 45 days and place envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, diplomats say.
U.N. monitors, who have been unable to halt the violence, suspended patrols in June after repeated attacks on convoys.
09/09/2012 12:25 PM EDT
Syria Blasts Aleppo By Air
09/05/2012 7:50 AM EDT
Syrian City In Flames
08/25/2012 1:45 PM EDT
Lebanese Pilgrim Freed
Hussein Ali Omar, 60, one of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims that Syrian rebels have been holding for three months in Syria, hugs his mother, right, upon arrival at his house in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, 2012. Syrian rebels freed Omar on Saturday in a move aimed at easing cross-border tensions after a wave of abductions of Syrian citizens in Lebanon. The Shiite pilgrims were abducted May 22 after crossing into Syria from Turkey on their way to Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
08/24/2012 12:22 PM EDT
This image made from video and released by Shaam News Network and accessed Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, purports to show the funeral of children in Daraya, near Damascus, Syria. Syrian troops backed by tanks and helicopters broke into a Damascus suburb on Thursday following two days of shelling and intense clashes as part of a widening offensive by President Bashar Assad's forces to seize control of parts of the capital and surrounding areas from rebel fighters, activists said. At least 15 people were killed in the offensive on Daraya, only a few miles (kilometers) southwest of Damascus. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network SNN via AP video)
08/24/2012 11:05 AM EDT
Lebanon Sees Heaviest Clashes In Months
Clashes between Assad supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime killed two people in Lebanon on Friday, the Associated Press reports. 17 people were injured.
The AP gives more context:
Syria was in virtual control of its smaller neighbor for many years, posting tens of thousands of troops in Lebanon, before withdrawing under pressure in 2005. Even without soldiers on the ground, Syria remains influential, and its civil war has stirred longstanding tensions that have lain under Lebanon's surface.
Read more on HuffPost World.
08/24/2012 11:02 AM EDT
A Sunni gunman fires a gun during clashes that erupted between pro and anti-Syrian regime gunmen in the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. The latest round of fighting first erupted on Monday in northern Lebanon and at least 15 have been killed in Tripoli this week and more than 100 have been wounded in fighting that is a spillover from Syria's civil war. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
08/24/2012 11:00 AM EDT
Refugee Numbers Soar
@ KenRoth :
UN reports 200,000 #Syria refugees, 30,000 in past week alone. Many more internally displaced not counted. http://t.co/BaM6u59j
08/23/2012 2:00 PM EDT
Syrian boy Musataf Alhafiz, 11, who fled his home with his family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, carries his brother Saif, 9 months, while he and others take refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. Thousands of Syrians who have been displaced by the country's civil war are struggling to find safe shelter while shelling and airstrikes by government forces continue. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
08/23/2012 12:09 PM EDT
Heaviest Bombardment This Month
Helicopter gunships shelled Damascus on Wednesday as Syrian security forces intensified their assault on the capital. Activists report that at least 47 people were killed.
"The whole of Damascus is shaking with the sound of shelling," a woman in the neighborhood of Kfar Souseh told Reuters.
Read more on HuffPost World.