As Arab League observers begin a new mission in Syria, the UN Security Council has been considering a draft resolution against Damascus.
It follows calls by the Arab League for stronger action after an upsurge in violence.
Russia, which vetoed a previous draft resolution, says this one too is unacceptable, though it is willing to “engage” with the co-sponsors, Britain, France and Germany.
“We have here the League of Arab States, which is proposing a solution so our reaction is simply to support it,” said the French Ambassador to the UN, Gerard Araud. “Here our national interests are not at stake; it’s simply that we see a country sinking into civil war.”
Western journalists have seen evidence of opposition to the regime in the Damascus suburbs.
“We’ll have freedom forever”, chanted protesters lining the route.
Activists say security forces killed over 40 people in Syria on Friday.
Amateur video showed what appeared to be bodies lying in the streets of Homs, as a narrator said they had been left by the Syrian army.
Also in the town, militiamen were blamed for the deaths of 14 members of one family, in one of the worst sectarian attacks since the revolt began.