Some Middle East dictators have turned to violence to keep their leadership in the so-called Arab Spring. But few have been more brutal than Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Now, after hundreds of killings and thousands of arrests, some Western leaders are cracking down.
Assad has severely restricted the press, making it difficult to tell how many have died in the country.
The regime plans to avenge the deaths of 120 security forces allegedly killed by armed anti-government fighters last weekend.
Opposition members say the dead are security members who refused to join the government crackdown.
Western leaders, led by Britain and France, are most concerned about Assad's treatment of non-violent protesters.
"There are credible reports of a thousand dead and as many as 10,000 detained," British Prime Minister David Cameron said.
"And the violence meted out to peaceful protestors and demonstrators in completely unacceptable," he said. "Of course we must not stand silent in the face of these outrages and we won't."
One event that fueled the United Nations' action was the brutal murder of a 13 year-old boy by Syrian security forces. Hamaz al-Khatib's body was returned to his parents mutilated and badly disfigured, with his genitals removed.
His parents put footage of the boy on YouTube. Since then, Syrian demonstrators have chanted his name in their protests.
"The tragedy of the young boy, Hamza al-Khatib, symbolizes for many people around the world the total collapse of any effort by the Assad government to work with their own people," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
"Britain and France will be tabling a resolution at the Security Council condemning the repression and demanding accountability and humanitarian access," Cameron added.
"And if anyone votes against that resolution or tries to veto it, that should be on their conscience," he said.
Russia and China will be the countries most likely to veto the Security Council resolution on Syria.
Syrian demonstrators have been burning Russian and Chinese flags in their marches to protest their support for the regime.