DAMASCUS - Syrian shelling of rebel districts of Homs on Saturday killed one civilian ahead of UN Security Council vote on a Western-drafted resolution that would send observers to monitor a truce now in its third day.

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad shelled the Jurat al-Shayah and Al-Qarabis districts of the central city for around an hour in the morning, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The shelling resumed in the afternoon, the Britain-based monitoring group said, adding that one civilian was killed in Jurat al-Shayah.

Syrian forces control most of Homs since they overran the rebel stronghold district of Baba Amr at the beginning of last month, except for the old quarters where dissidents remain active.

In the northern city of Aleppo, three civilians were wounded when a funeral procession came under fire, the Observatory said.

Farther south, in the town of Dmeir outside Damascus, security forces opened fire on a car, killing one civilian and wounding two, the watchdog said.

Meanwhile, two soldiers were killed in an attack on their car in the southern province of Daraa, the Observatory said, taking Saturday’s death toll to four.

“In general, it is quiet, except for some violations (of the ceasefire),” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. “The numbers of people being killed are down, and that is something positive.”

The latest deaths came after six civilians were killed on Friday as tens of thousands of people protested across Syria, heeding calls by the opposition to take advantage of the UN-backed truce that came into force at dawn on Thursday.

On Saturday, demonstrations were staged in several areas, according to videos posted on the Internet by activists.

“Activate the revolution. It is ours. Syria is free,” chanted hundreds of demonstrators in the village of Kfar Roma, in the northern province of Idlib.

In Daraa province, the cradle of dissent against Assad’s regime, hundreds demonstrated in the village of Inkhel.

“We shall not give up until the regime falls,” they chanted.

The United States called for a vote at the UN Security Council after a second day of wrangling with Russia over security guarantees for the first 30 unarmed military monitors UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan wants in Syria early next week.

Russia also opposed a council demand that Assad’s regime carry out a promise to withdraw troops and heavy weapons from towns and cities.

Moscow’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he was not “completely satisfied” with the talks held at the UN on Friday. Russia and China have vetoed two previous Security Council resolutions on Syria.

Negotiations had been “rather difficult,” Churkin said, while insisting that Russia wants a vote on Saturday that allows the Syrian ceasefire to be “reinforced.” Neither the United States nor its allies are certain that the resolution will escape a new veto.

“It would be wise not to make predictions,” said Washington’s UN ambassador Susan Rice.

“There was a negotiation, there is not yet an agreement,” France’s UN ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters. “It’s very tough, but there will be a vote tomorrow in any case.”

A Security Council diplomat said: “A veto cannot be ruled out. It would be catastrophic for Syria if it happens.”

A new version of the resolution drafted by the United States with Britain and France was sent to other council members late on Friday for national governments to decide which way to vote. Russia has also registered a shorter version of the draft for an eventual vote.

Both versions authorise the first 30 monitors in an observer force that would swell to more than 200 if the ceasefire firms up.

The UN says well over 9,000 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad’s regime erupted in March last year.

Annan has asked for approval for the monitors and for the council to call for all six points of his peace plan to be carried out. The Syrian government has yet to pull troops and heavy weapons out of protest cities.

The text proposed by the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Morocco and Colombia demands “full, unimpeded, and immediate freedom of movement” for the observers and that Assad “implement visibly” commitments made to Annan.

The council could also “consider further steps as appropriate.” Russia’s alternative text removes the demand for “unimpeded” access for monitors and the warning of new measures. It also takes out condemnation of human rights abuses in Syria.

A diplomat in the negotiations said Assad’s ally Russia had been “haggling over every phrase” in the draft.

Churkin said Russia wanted a brief resolution to get “some boots on the ground” and then negotiate the mandate for the full mission.

Despite their past vetoes, Russia and China strongly supported Annan’s six-point peace plan, and say they are putting increased pressure on Damascus. The United States and European powers say there must be specific security guarantees and terms set out to the Syrian government before the advance team leaves.