Beirut: Syrian troops crushed pockets of rebel soldiers on the outskirts of Damascus as Western diplomats took up a UN draft resolution demanding President Bashar Assad halt the violence and yield power.

The UN Security Council met on Tuesday to discuss the draft, backed by Western and Arab diplomats. But Russia, one of Assad's strongest backers, has signaled it would veto action against Damascus.

"The Western draft Security Council resolution on Syria does not lead to a search for compromise," Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov wrote Tuesday on Twitter. "Pushing this resolution is a path to civil war."

Russia has stood by Assad as he tries to crush an uprising that began nearly 11 months ago. In October, Moscow vetoed the first Security Council attempt to condemn Syria's crackdown and has shown little sign of budging in its opposition.

Moscow's stance is motivated in part by its strategic and defense ties, including weapons sales, with Syria. Russia also rejects what it sees as a world order dominated by the US.

The fallout from the conflict in Libya is a factor, as well. Russia fears the new measure could open the door to eventual military intervention, the way an Arab-backed UN resolution led to NATO airstrikes in Libya.

The diplomatic showdown came as Syrian government forces took back control of the eastern suburbs of the capital, Damascus, after rebel soldiers briefly captured the area in a startling advance last week.