As the Syrian conflict continues to take a heavy toll, pressure is building on President Bashar al Assad at the UN to end the violence.
The Arab League is supporting a resolution calling for the Syrian leader to hand over power to avert further bloodshed. Washington is hoping to convince Moscow not to veto it.
France is adding its voice. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said: “We need a plan for political transition: firstly a ceasefire, a withdrawal of troops, then a political transition removing Assad.”
Dozens of people are reported to have been killed in the latest violence, although that has not been independently verified.
As the fighting escalates in Damascus, the opposition has made an appeal to Assad’s most important ally.
Burhain Ghalioun, leader of the Syrian National Council, said: “I call on Russia, with its long historical ties to the Syrian people, to prevent the Assad regime from exploiting Russian support (enabling it) to continue its oppression of the Syrian people.”
The Syrian leadership has also gone on a diplomatic offensive, releasing what it claimed was a video of a tunnel and materials used by opposition fighters. Damascus insists they are foreign-backed terrorists.
The upsurge in bloodshed prompted the Arab League to suspend the work of its monitors on Saturday. Their mission to verify that initial peace moves were being taken by the Syrian government is widely seen to have failed.