The Security Council is scheduled to take up a western/Arab initiative that would call on Assad to resign and hand over power to his vice president (a close crony) but Russia has pledged to block any call for the dictator's resignation.
Meanwhile, the bloodletting goes on...and on.
Security forces killed 37 people in Syria on Friday, activists and residents said, as people in Homs mourned 14 members of a family they said were slain by militiamen in one of the worst sectarian attacks in a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.
The U.N. Security Council was to meet later in the day to discuss Syria before a possible vote next week on a new Western-Arab draft resolution aimed at halting 10 months of bloodshed.
Russia, which joined China in vetoing a previous Western draft resolution in October and which has since promoted its own draft, said the Western-Arab version was unacceptable and vowed to block any text calling for Assad's resignation.
There was no let-up in violence on Friday, when anti-Assad protests again erupted after weekly Muslim prayers.
Tank and mortar fire killed 15 people in Hama, a resident said, on the fourth day of an army assault on rebellious districts of the city, where Assad's father crushed an armed Islamist uprising in 1982, killing many thousands.
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 22 people killed elsewhere in Syria, including 12 when security forces fired on a funeral march in the southern town of Nowa, five in the normally peaceful city of Aleppo, and four in Homs.
Machinegun fire wounded five people in the Qusour district of Homs, one activist there said, adding that the city was calmer than it was at the height of Thursday's violence, when 16 people were also killed by mortar fire from security forces.
The sectarian strife is the biggest danger since it is likely to spread across Syria's borders:
Hamza, an activist in Homs, said the militiamen who attacked the Sunni family were avenging deaths inflicted on their ranks by army defectors loosely grouped in the rebel Free Syrian Army.
Tit-for-tat sectarian killings began in Homs four months ago. Assad's Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, has dominated the political and security apparatus in Syria, a mostly Sunni nation of 23 million, for five decades.
There is no turning back for either side in this conflict. The longer it goes on, the more intransigent both sides become. It can only end with Assad's eventual removal, resignation, or downfall. The only question is how high the body count will go before that happens.