By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Britain, France, Germany and Portugal soon plan to circulate a new draft U.N. resolution condemning Syria that drops calls for immediate sanctions against Damascus, diplomats said on Tuesday.

The scaled-back resolution, which is aimed at breaking a deadlock on the U.N. Security Council, will include the threat of future sanctions if the government of President Bashar al-Assad does not halt military operations against civilians.

"We want to send a strong and unified message to ensure that the Assad regime does not remain deaf to the demands of the international community," a European diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Veto-wielding council members Russia and China, as well as Brazil, India and South Africa, have opposed the European and U.S. push for sanctions against Syria.

Diplomats said that the new resolution would hopefully be more palatable to those five nations, also known as the "BRICS" bloc of key emerging market economies.

"We want to get the council to approve something quickly," a diplomat said. "We're moving toward something that's pretty threatening."

He added that the Europeans hoped to be able to get the council to approve the new draft resolution very soon, possibly within the next 24 hours.

Last month, the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Portugal circulated a draft resolution that called for sanctions against Assad, influential members of his family and close associates. They said at the time that they wanted a vote as soon as possible, but that vote never came.

Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that the BRICS, which U.S. and European diplomats say are becoming increasingly obstructionist, are not looking for fights but want multilateral solutions to urgent problems.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Will Dunham)