United Nations: UN leader Ban Ki-moon came down heavily on the Syrian government for the killing of scores of demonstrators on Friday and renewed calls for a "transparent" independent investigation.

"The Secretary-General condemns the ongoing violence against peaceful demonstrators in Syria, which again has killed and injured many on Saturday, and calls for it to stop immediately," said UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq.

Ban said President Bashar al-Assad's government must "respect international human rights, including the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as the freedom of the press."

He also repeated his demand for an "independent, transparent and effective investigation into the killings," added the spokesman.

Ban noted measures such as the lifting of a decades-old state of emergency in Syria but stressed that "only an inclusive dialogue and the effective implementation of reforms can address the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and ensure social peace and order."