16 February 2012 Last updated at 13:40 ETHoms has been the target of government shelling for nearly two weeks
The UN General Assembly is set to vote on a resolution condemning human rights violations in Syria and calling for an end to the violence.
The Arab-backed initiative is the latest stage in international attempts to mediate an end to the crisis.
It also calls for President Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power.
Earlier China, which along with Russia vetoed a previous resolution in the Security Council, said it was sending an envoy to Syria.
Deputy Foreign Minister Zhai Jun will go to the capital, Damascus, on Friday, in what Beijing said was an attempt to find a "peaceful and proper" resolution to the conflict.
Human rights groups say 7,000 civilians have been killed in Syria since the uprising against Mr Assad began last March.
At least 40 people were killed on Thursday, activists said.
There were also reports that prominent pro-democracy blogger Razan Ghazzawi had been arrested, along with Mazen Darwish, head of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom Of Expression, and a dozen other people.
'Children killed'The resolution to be discussed in the General Assembly backs an Arab League plan aimed at stopping the killings.
The measure cannot be vetoed in the assembly, but the resolution would be non-binding and correspondents say it will make little difference on the ground.
Ahead of the vote, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Syrian authorities to stop killing civilians, and said crimes against humanity might be taking place in the country.
"We see neighbourhoods shelled indiscriminately, hospitals used as torture centres, children as young as 10 years old killed and abused. We see almost certain crimes against humanity," he said.
Mr Ban said it was "regrettable" that the previous resolution put before the UN Security Council had been vetoed by China and Russia, but that the lack of agreement "does not give the government licence to continue this assault on its own people".
The BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut says there is no sign so far that Russia will give in to international pressure and join the condemnation of the authorities in Damascus..
Russia has opposed what it sees as forced regime change and has raised concerns about the possibility of military involvement.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held brief talks with his French counterpart Alain Juppe in Vienna on Thursday, but said the French - who back the resolution - had offered no new proposals
In China, Mr Zhai condemned violence against civilians and called for the government to respect the people's "legitimate" desire for reform.
But in the interview, posted on the Chinese foreign ministry website, he also said sanctions or the threat of sanctions were "not conducive to the appropriate resolution of this issue".
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman would not say if Mr Zhai would also meet Syrian opposition representatives during the two-day visit.
"I believe the message of this visit is that China hopes for a peaceful and proper resolution of the Syrian situation, and that the Chinese side will play a constructive role in the mediation," spokesman Liu Weimin said.
Last week, Mr Zhai met a Syrian opposition delegation in Beijing.
In Syria itself, government forces are reported to have launched a new attack on the town of Deraa in the south of the country, where the rebellion first began.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were fears of a massacre in the Deraa province village of Sahm al-Julan, where dozens of civilians have disappeared.
"Witnesses said security forces shot at the civilians and then piled them onto pick-up trucks. Their fate is unknown," the group said in a statement.
There are also reports of violence on the eastern border with Iraq, and in Kfar Nabuda in the central Hama province, where a number of rebel soldiers are reported to have been killed, along with several civilians.
Shelling by government forces was reported in Homs, which has along with Hama been hit by major government offensives.
Reporting restrictions mean such reports are difficult to verify.
Syria is due to hold a referendum on 26 February on a new draft constitution, which would formally end the Baath Party's monopoly on power, and place a two-term limit on the presidency.
But our correspondent says it is hard to see how it could be conducted credibly when in many areas the authorities are having to use military force to retain control.
Article Source : BBC News
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