UN Security Council powers remained deadlocked on Wednesday over Syria as the Damascus government stepped up its crackdown on opposition protests.
Russia led resistance by a group of countries to Western efforts to pass a formal resolution condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's repression.
The 15-nation body held a third day of formal consultations after reporting back to their national governments on the obstacles holding up a Security Council stance on Syria.
Diplomats wrangled over the the wording of any condemnation and whether it should be a formal resolution or a non-binding council statement.
Amid reports of government tanks grouping around the Syrian protest city of Hama, European diplomats said they were holding out for a "strong and clear" condemnation of Assad.
Britain, France, Germany and Portugal, with US backing, have already proposed a resolution which has been amended several times following comments from opponents.
Before the latest surge in violence, Russia and China had threatened to veto any resolution. Brazil, India and South Africa have also opposed Security Council action.
Lebanon said it could not support a resolution or statement because of its sensitive relations with neighboring Syria.
Russia's UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said that even the latest draft text was unacceptable.
The new wording was "detrimental" to efforts "to do everything possible to pull away from the brink of civil war where Syria is finding itself, unfortunately and tragically," Churkin told reporters late on Tuesday.
The European powers say they will take a stand to make sure that the wording is not watered down in favor of Assad.
Russia and others have insisted that violence by demonstrators against Syrian security forces should be condemned in the same way as that by the government.
"That would not be appropriate," said one European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"We have made very clear our position, we have some clear 'red lines' and we'll see where others come out," said Britain's UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant.
Diplomats from various countries said the council would concentrate on agreeing a text and then start negotiations on whether it should be passed as a resolution or released as a statement.
This means that any council action is unlikely to be agreed before Thursday.