United Nations: Four hundred people have been killed in Syria since Arab League monitors started a monitoring mission on December 26, and 40 people are being killed each day, a top UN official has told the Security Council.

UN assistant secretary general B Lynn Pascoe gave the new casualty figure in a closed meeting of the 15-member Council, according to envoys. The UN had previously said that more than 5,000 people have been killed since protests against President Bashar al-Assad started in March.

After the meeting, Western envoys stepped up calls for Russia to revive talks on a Security Council resolution condemning the Syria violence.

Russia and China vetoed a European-drafted text in October which condemned Assad's government for its deadly crackdown on protests.

Russia has since proposed a rival resolution which condemns the government and opposition violence. But there have been no talks among all the 15 council members since the start of the year.

Germany's UN ambassador Peter Wittig said this was "unsatisfactory" and demanded "serious negotiations" by Russia.

Diplomats said no progress was likely now until after the Arab League reports on its observer mission on January 19.