As international powers decide on how to deal with the escalating violence in Syria, the US has said it is closely monitoring the country’s stockpiles of chemical arms and portable anti-aircraft missiles.Back on the diplomatic side, France has said it will lead another push to finalise a UN Security Council resolution on stopping violence in Syria.

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SYRIA’S PRESIDENT BASHAR Assad has said a referendum will be held on the country’s new draft constitution on 26 February.

As part of reforms promised since anti-government protests began last March, a National Committee was formed to draft a new constitution.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Syria there have been reports of a diesel pipeline blast in Homs in the early hours.

Reuters reports that Syrian government forces continued their attacks on the central city early today.

There have also been reports of firings, armoured vehicles and anti-aircraft guns in Hama.

The Local Coordination Committee has said that the city is “entirely sieged”, according to The Guardian.

The President said he received the first copy on Sunday and released the date – with just 11 days notice – of the referendum this morning.

However, there was no mention of any further democratic elections on the official news agency SANA’s website.