Syrian forces have killed at least 27 people in the last three days in an offensive to recapture the town of Rastan that has come under the control of army deserters, an activist's body said on Thursday.
The Local Coordination Committees said two of those killed were deserters and the rest were villagers in the central town, which has been under a tank and helicopter-backed assault by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad since Tuesday.
Meanwhile, European UN Security Council members have softened a draft resolution condemning Syria's crackdown on anti-government protests to try to secure Russia's support, a draft text obtained by Reuters on Thursday showed.
If the draft resolution is put to a vote on Friday, as the four European members of the council hope, the United States is expected to support it, envoys said, despite its disappointment about compromises made to win the support of Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa.
The latest version of the resolution shows that drafters Britain, France, Germany and Portugal removed a reference to UN human rights chief Navi Pillay's recommendation that the 15-nation council consider referring the Syrian government's clampdown to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The European Union draft says the council "expresses its determination, to review Syria's implementation of this resolution within 30 days, and, in the event that Syria has not complied with this resolution, to consider the adoption of targeted measures, including sanctions."
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