UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - European nations on Friday dropped the word sanctions from a proposed UN Council resolution on Syria as they played a diplomatic word game to temper Russian opposition. France, Britain, Germany and Portugal instead called for targeted measures in their draft text in a bid to keep up the threat of action against Syrias President Bashar al-Assad over his deadly crackdown on opposition protests. Russia and China have threatened to veto any resolution calling for punitive measures against the Syrian government. Russia has proposed its own rival draft resolution with no threat of action. The European nations are pressing for a vote early next week as the Security Council has still not passed a resolution on the seven-month-old Syrian troubles, which the UN says has left 2,700 dead. Russias UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin did not comment on the change but said the two sides were working to merge their rival resolutions. The Europeans and Russia are also at loggerheads over whether opposition violence in Syria should be given the same weight as the government crackdown. Europe insists that any resolution should put more stress on Assads action. It has dropped demands for immediate sanctions against Assad and his entourage in an effort to get a resolution passed. The 15-member UN Security Council could also pass a resolution or agree a statement next week on the worsening Yemen unrest, diplomats said. The UN envoy to Yemen, Jamal bin Omar, is expected to brief the council on a new surge in unrest. President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who faces international pressure to relinquish power and allow new elections, returned to the country last week, sparking violence in which scores have been killed. The 69-year-old president has refused to sign a power transfer deal, brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council, under which he would hand over to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in return for immunity from prosecution. The United Nations has expressed growing fears of a humanitarian crisis in Yemen because of the conflict, which has led to a collapse in public services, and a drought. Drought and soaring food and fuel prices have led to alarming levels of malnutrition. Access to safe water is becoming increasingly difficult, increasing the risk of disease, said UN Humanitarian Coordinator Valerie Amos. More than 100,000 people have been displaced by fighting in the south, and will find it difficult to return home in the foreseeable future, added the UN under secretary general. The lack of safety has led the UN to withdraw some international staff from Yemen, she said.