Syrian President Bashar Assad told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that military and police operations against pro-democracy protesters had stopped, the United Nations said.
In a phone call with Assad on Wednesday, Ban "expressed alarm at the latest reports of continued widespread violations of human rights and excessive use of force by Syrian security forces against civilians across Syria," the United Nations said in a statement.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop
"The Secretary-General emphasized that all military operations and mass arrests must cease immediately. President Assad said that the military and police operations had stopped," the statement added.
Syria has expelled most independent media since the unrest began, making it difficult to verify reports from the country.
The UN statement said Ban repeated his calls for an independent investigation into all reported killings and acts of violence, and for free access by the media.
It added the UN chief called on Damascus to cooperate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
"The Secretary-General also urged President Assad to engage in a credible and peaceful process of reform towards comprehensive change.
"The Secretary-General emphasized the need for reforms to be implemented swiftly without further military intervention," the statement said.
Ban said a UN humanitarian assessment team, which the Syrian Government had agreed to receive, should be given independent and unhindered access to all areas affected by violence. Assad said the team would have access to different sites in Syria, according to the statement.
UN eyes ICC action
Meanwhile, the UN human rights chief is expected to suggest that the UN Security Council refer Syria's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters to the International Criminal Court.
UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay will address the 15-nation council in a closed-door session on Syria on Thursday, along with UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos.
"OHCHR have indicated that their Syria report will find evidence that Syria has committed grave violations of international human rights law in its actions dealing with protesters over the past five months," a diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Pillay will also say that a "thorough appropriate international investigation is needed," the envoy said about the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, or OHCHR, adding she was "likely to suggest that the ICC would be appropriate." The ICC is a permanent war-crimes court based in The Hague.
Another UN diplomat said that Pillay was "planning to suggest the idea of an ICC referral" for Syria.
Both diplomats said Pillay's office considered the allegations too serious to be left to a national Syrian investigation and that an international probe would be needed.
The council has so far referred only two cases to the ICC – the situation in Sudan's conflict-torn Darfur region and, earlier this year, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's crackdown against anti-government demonstrators.
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook