Syrian rebels circulated video of what they claim is the downing of a Syrian plane and the captured pilot, as foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation agreed Monday to recommend the suspension of Syria from their group.
The rebel video cannot be independently verified. Opposition activists posted amateur video on YouTube Monday showing a fighter jet flying through the sound of heavy fire, erupting in a ball of flames and trailing a line of smoke. Someone off-camera celebrates, saying the plane had been hit in the town of Mohassen in Deir Ezzor province. Later, video was released of a man, identified as the pilot, surrounded by armed men.
State media say a pilot ejected Monday after suffering technical problems during a “routine training mission” in eastern Syria, and that authorities are searching for him.
According to eyewitness reports, the Syrian government has been using fighter jets as part of its most recent assaults on rebel-held areas across the country.
Meanwhile, OIC foreign ministers preparing for Tuesday's summit in Mecca decided to recommend suspending Syria from the group. The move could lead to a diplomatic dispute during the summit between Iran, a key ally of the Syrian president, and pro-opposition Saudi Arabia.
In the latest violence, opposition activists say more than 50 Syrians died Monday.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said most of the deaths occurred during a government bombardment on the town of Irbeen. It is impossible to independently verify the claim.
The United Nations humanitarian chief is expected to travel to Syria and Lebanon Tuesday to discuss ways of increasing aid to civilians caught up in the conflict. VoA.