A UN mission will visit Daraa “in the coming days,” a UN official said Thursday after Syrian authorities gave the go-ahead for a humanitarian team to enter the protest hub following a deadly military lockdown there.

“I'm told that we have received that access and that in the coming days a humanitarian assessment team will be going to Daraa,” a UN deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has appealed for an end to the deadly crackdown on anti-regime demonstrators across Syria, and in a telephone call Wednesday urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “to immediately” grant UN access to assess the humanitarian needs in affected areas.

A UN spokesman said Ban “appreciated President Assad's willingness to consider such an assessment to Daraa,” and that the secretary-general had urged Assad to cooperate with a UN Human Rights Council inquiry into the clampdown on protests and carry out “bold” reforms.

According to human rights groups, more than 600 people have been killed and 8,000 have been jailed or gone missing in the seven-week-old anti-regime campaign.

The Syrian army, which stormed into Daraa on April 25, on Thursday began to pull back from the flashpoint town where the protest movement was born. -