United Nations: Condemning the ongoing protests in Syria, which has killed several people in the last few days, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay asked Damascus to allow a fact-finding mission to visit the country.

"We are receiving an increasing number of alarming reports pointing to the Syrian government's continuing efforts to ruthlessly crush civilian protests... I urge the government to halt this assault on its own people's most fundamental human rights," Pillay said.

She noted that NGOs and others are now reporting that the number of men, women and children killed since the protests began in March has exceeded 1,100, with up to 10,000 or more detained.

Stating that "bare statistics do not reveal full extent of individual crimes and suffering," Pillay referred to the case of Hamza al-Khatib, a 13-year-old boy, who was allegedly abducted and tortured to death by local security forces.

Pillay also voiced concern about reports of civilians fleeing the north-western town of Jisr al-Shughour in wake of recent threatening statements by government officials.

She urged Syrian authorities to grant a fact-finding team, appointed by UN Human Rights Council in April to probe alleged violations of human rights, access to the country. "So far we have not received any official reply from Syria," Pillay, whose team is scheduled to issue a preliminary report to the Geneva-based Council on 15 June, said.

She also reminded neighbouring nations that no one from Syria should be returned against their will urged countries to keep their borders open for refugees fleeing Syria.