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UN council to vote on Syria amid new assault

In an unusual weekend session, European envoys to the UN Security Council said they would vote on a resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down. The move came as more than 200 people reportedly were killed in one of the worst episodes of the uprising.

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Supporters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) block a street during a protest in Reef Damascus, north of Damascus, early February 4. More than 200 people were killed in shelling by Syrian forces in the city of Homs, activists said on Saturday, as the U.N. Security Council prepared to vote on a draft resolution backing an Arab call for Assad to give up power.

Stringer/Reuters

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European envoys to the Security Council said they would vote Saturday on a draft resolution backing an Arab League call for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down amid talk that Russia would ask for a delay.

The ambassadors spoke as they headed into an unusual weekend session. The urgency was heightened by an assault by Syrian forces firing mortars and artillerey on the city of Homs. Activists said more than 200 people were killed in what they called one of the bloodiest episodes of the uprising. The U.N. says more than 5,400 people have been killed over almost 11 months in a government crackdown on civilian protests.

Although Western nations were pressing for a vote, there was no guarantee the resolution would pass.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Saturday at a security conference in Munich that Moscow still saw two problems of "crucial importance" with the draft resolution on the violence in Syria. Western countries have been working to head off a possible Russian veto if the resolution goes to a vote.

But patience among some nations was running out.

"We are really in the end game," German Ambassador Peter Wittig said. "There should be no more foot dragging. The events in Homs are really terrible."

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