Skip to main content

Regional group votes to suspend Syria; rebels claim downing of jet

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 1:14 AM EDT, Tue August 14, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: At least 114 people were killed in Syria on Monday, an opposition group says
  • Video shows a jet catching fire; the government says "technical failure" caused crash
  • Rebels claimed they shot down the military jet
  • A Syrian envoy will visit China on Tuesday; China considers inviting the opposition

(CNN) -- Foreign ministers of Islamic countries have agreed to suspend Syria from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a non-binding vote that sets the stage for the group's two-day emergency summit in Saudi Arabia.

Syria is one of the main items on the agenda of the Mecca meeting, which opens Tuesday. The ministers met in Jeddah ahead of the summit.

"There is an agreement to support the Syrian people and standing by their side, we are agreeing on freezing the membership of Syria until it retains its balance," Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafiq Abdul Salam said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

The heads of state must approve the suspension before it can take effect.

Children killed in bus attack in Syria

The move by the foreign ministers came after Syrian rebels claimed one of their biggest achievements yet -- the shooting down of a military jet.

Video posted by the rebel forces shows a jet framed in a cloudless sky being shot at, catching fire and falling out of frame.

"A MiG warplane shot down in Mouhassen!" says an excited man off-camera, citing a location in Deir Ezzor. "God is great!"

The government denied the jet was shot down, blaming the crash instead on a "technical failure." It said the jet fighter was on an "ordinary training flight" and that the pilot ejected safely.

The search for the pilot was still under way late Monday, according to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA)

A few hours after the rebels made their claim, the opposition Local Coordinating Committees of Syria posted a video showing what it said was the pilot, whom it identified as Col. Mufeed Mohamad Suleiman. No identification card was shown.

The man -- dressed in civilian clothes and surrounded by armed men -- called on other military officers to defect.

He said the rebels had provided first aid to treat the bruises on his face that he suffered in the parachute jump.

A man who identified himself as a rebel captain said the pilot would be treated as a prisoner of war.

CNN cannot independently confirm the authenticity of either video.

Clinton discusses Syria plans with Turkey

The report came as China invited an envoy for Syrian President Basar al-Assad to visit Beijing on Tuesday, adding that it "is also considering inviting members of the Syrian opposition to visit."

A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said the envoy, Bouthaina Shaaban, would meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

"To promote the political solution to the Syria problem, China has always actively balanced its work between the Syrian government and the opposition to urge Syria to put to practice (former Arab League and U.N. envoy Kofi) Annan's suggestions and advice by the U.N. Security Council -- immediately cease fire and all violent actions, protect civilians and resolve the crisis through talks," the spokesman said.

The United Nations announced Monday that Valerie Amos, its under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, will visit Damascus and Beirut, Lebanon, starting Tuesday.

"The three-day visit aims to draw attention to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria and the impact of the conflict on people ... remaining in Syria and who have fled to other countries, including Lebanon," the United Nations said.

Al-Assad's inner circle, mostly family, like 'mafia'

A report Monday from opposition activists underscored the difficulty in resolving the Syrian crisis. It said Syrian forces in Damascus had publicly executed at least 10 people in one town, and that residents were unable to reach the bodies because "regime forces have been firing at anything that moves," the Local Coordination Committees said.

At least 114 people were killed across Syria on Monday, including 66 in and around Damascus, 15 in Daraa, and 17 in Homs, the LCC said.

Daraa is where the anti-government protests began in March last year. Nearby, helicopters shelled the southern town of Tafas, and regime forces prevented residents from fleeing, the LCC said.

SANA reported Monday that Syrian armed forces had killed "a large number of mercenary terrorists" in the opposition stronghold of Homs.

U.S. slaps new sanctions on Syria, extends those against Hezbollah

The United Nations estimated Monday that 2 million people have been affected by the fighting and more than 1 million internally displaced.

The Syrian crisis has claimed roughly 17,000 lives since it erupted last year, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last month. Opposition activists have put the toll at more than 20,000.

CNN exclusive: Inside Syria

CNN's Brian Walker, Holly Yan, Salma Abdelaziz and Ivan Watson contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
As a 10-year-old, this boy first hit the headlines in 1982 when he saved his cat from a fire. This year, he was reported to be a suicide bomber.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Fri September 5, 2014
Aqsa Mahmood,19, would listen to Coldplay and read Harry Potter books. Then this Glasgow girl became an ISIS bride.
updated 4:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
The little boy looks barely old enough to walk, let alone understand the dark world he's now inhabiting.
updated 12:22 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
ISIS has released video of the aftermath of a mass execution. Another video shows alleged captured Peshmerga soldiers.
updated 5:33 AM EDT, Sat August 30, 2014
The number of people who have fled Syria and registered as refugees amid the country's civil war will surpass 3 million Friday.
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, grew up in the Minneapolis area, but died more than 6,000 miles away in Syria, fighting for ISIS.
updated 4:54 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
If the United States is serious about thoroughly defeating ISIS, it must, somehow, go through Syria.
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
updated 5:33 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
updated 7:41 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
updated 5:17 PM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
updated 4:25 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 2, 2014
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
updated 12:10 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
updated 6:16 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
More than 100,000 people reportedly have been killed in Syria since a popular uprising in 2011 spiraled into a civil war.
ADVERTISEMENT