The United Nations Security Council is to vote on a resolution regarding Syria on Saturday, with all eyes on Russia, Syria’s strongest ally on the council.
Russia initially rejected parts of the latest draft, but it remains unclear which way they will vote on Saturday, as hope remains that the resolution could still be passed.
Pakistan’s U.N. Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon told reporters that the council was “very close… two words away" from an accord.
Whilst the latest text does not explicitly mention sanctions, parts of the resolution are still opposed by Russia, including warnings of “further measures” and that the council “fully supports” the Arab League plan.
A Western official commented that if an agreement was to be reached at the UN,
"It would scare the Assad regime a lot more than a more robust text vetoed by Russians."
"It would mean the Russians are slowly accepting the idea that Assad will depart and would also send a powerful message to people around Assad that it might be time to leave the sinking ship."
The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, reportedly spoke on the phone with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, in an attempt to smooth over any opposition leading upto the vote.
Meanwhile, more than 200 people were reported to be killed in the city of Homs as President Assad’s troops shelled the city. The UN has ceased to estimate the number of deaths since the end of January, citing that it was now too difficult to confirm any casualties.
Twenty-six asylum seekers were deported back to Sri Lanka by Japan on Thursday, along side six to Vietnam.
The deportation of mainly men aged 25 to 64 has been condemned by human rights activists and lawyers as "inhumane",
A leaked United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report warned of the negative effects that assassinations could have, recommending targeted strikes that could exploit leadership divisions and a combined counterinsurgency strategy.
The Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) called on the Tamil people to boycott Sri Lanka's presidential election next month, stating that the policies in relation to the Tamil question of the common opposition coalition did not differ from that of the ruling regime.
"There is no doubt that every Tamil person wants an end to this regime's policies - that of targetting the Tamil nation,
India's Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj stated the Indian government attaches the “highest importance” to the safety of Indian fishermen, as reports of attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy continue to take place.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa claimed that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has made a “secret deal” with opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena at an election rally in Chilaw this week.