U.N. observers said on Sunday that it was "extremely important" that all sides respect a promised ceasefire in Syria as a veteran peacekeeper flew in to take command.
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.
"It is extremely important in the context of our mandate that there is full cessation of violence in all its forms by all the parties," said mission spokesman Neeraj Singh.
"That is the necessary first imperative and that is what we are here to monitor and support."
Singh said that even though the U.N. mission still only had a small advance team deployed, it was already on the ground in major protest centers that have been at the center of bloodshed the United Nations estimates has killed more than 9,000 people since March last year.
"Even from the advance team that was here until now, as you see, apart from Damascus, we have permanently based observers in Homs, Hama, Daraa and Idlib," he said.
"I think things have been moving as fast as possible. This is a matter of utmost urgency for the U.N. All efforts are in place to make sure that we get the people on the ground as quickly as possible."
Syria's state news agency said the U.N. observers are touring an embattled neighborhood in the central city of Homs.
SANA said the observers were visiting Khaldiyeh, an area that has seen heavy government shelling and clashes between Syrian forces and rebels.
Veteran Norwegian peacekeeper Major General Robert Mood was expected in Damascus during the afternoon to take charge of the U.N. force.
Mood, 54, knows the Syrian capital well and negotiated with the authorities the conditions of deployment for the advance team.
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 in 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."
"It's worth making the effort," he added about the mission and the peace plan that Annan clinched with the government of President Bashar al-Assad. "The Syrian people deserve to have an opportunity."
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