UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has condemned Syria's use of force against demonstrators and called for an independent investigation.
Mr Ban said only an "inclusive dialogue and genuine reform can address the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and restore peace and social order".
However, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad poured troops into a suburb of the capital overnight while his tanks pounded Deraa to crush resistance in the southern city where the revolt against his autocratic rule began on March 18th.
White buses brought in hundreds of soldiers in combat gear into the northern Damascus suburb of Douma, a witness told Reuters today, from where pro-democracy protesters have tried to march into centre of the capital in the last two weeks but were met with bullets.
More than 2,000 security police deployed in Douma yesterday, manning checkpoints and checking identity cards to arrest pro-democracy sympathisers, said the witness, a former soldier.
The 45-year old president had dismissed suggestions that the tide of the Arab revolutions could reach Syria, until pro-democracy protests erupted in Deraa on March 18th.
Mr Assad's attempts to appease discontent by lifting emergency law while keeping the draconian powers of the secret police and the ruling Baath Party's monopoly on power have not stopped the protests.
Syria's UN envoy said yesterday his country was perfectly capable of conducting its own transparent inquiry into the deaths of anti-government demonstrators and needs no outside assistance.
"Syria has a government, has a state," Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari told reporters who asked about a call by Mr Ban for an investigation.
"We can undertake any investigation by our own selves with full transparency." "We have nothing to hide," he said outside the UN Security Council chambers, where members failed to agree on a statement condemning Syria's government.
The UN secretary general has called for an independent inquiry into the deaths of people he has described as peaceful demonstrators.
US ambassador Susan Rice reiterated that Washington was considering the possibility of targeted US sanctions against Damascus in response to the violence against protesters and she repeated an allegation that Syria was seeking Iran's assistance.
"The brutal violence being used by the Syrian government against its own people is abhorrent and deplorable," Rice told reporters after the closed-door council session. She added the 15-nation Security Council would take up the issue of Syria again today.
Britain, France, Germany and Portugal have circulated to the other 11 council members a draft statement condemning Syria's violent crackdown against protesters and urging restraint by the government, council diplomats told Reuters.
But Russia and China have reacted coolly, raising doubts about whether the council will be able to agree on a rebuke of Damascus, envoys said. There are no plans to call for UN sanctions, they added.