Reports from Washington say the US is to impose sanctions directly on President Assad of Syria for human rights abuses.
The latest move follows sanctions imposed by the US and the EU on other top Syrian officials.
It comes as at least eight people are reported dead in the town of Tel Kelakh, which has been shelled by government forces for four days.
More videos have appeared on social media websites claiming to show recent violence and demonstrations. Their authenticity cannot be verified.
Some of the pictures are said to illustrate the effect of a strike in the city of Homs. Shops appear to be closed in response to calls for a general stoppage on Wednesday to defy President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
But elsewhere the strike is said to have made little impact.
The Syrian leader has told a delegation from Damascus that security forces have made “mistakes” handling the protests.
He reportedly said that 4000 police would receive training to prevent excesses being repeated.
Despite a severe security crackdown involving reported mass arrests, new protests are said to have sprung up.