As a bloody crackdown continues, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has reportedly issued a decree allowing a multi-party political system.
But answering a key demand of the protest movement will not detract attention from a military campaign said to have claimed dozens more civilian lives.
Tanks appear to have occupied the centre of the opposition stronghold of Hama, with reports of at least 45 people killed in an assault on Wednesday night.
Ongoing bloodshed in Hama looks to have broken a logjam at the UN Security Council which has, for the first time, clearly condemned the use of force. Only Lebanon, where Syrian influence is strong, disassociated itself from the formal statement.
While falling short of a full resolution which the West would have preferred, the move marks the first firm Security Council criticism of Syria’s repression.
Rights activists say the death toll in the five-month-old uprising has now passed 1,600.