RIYADH/Islamabad - our staff reporter/Agencies  - Syria’s suspension from the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation will be recommended to the group during its meeting in Saudi Arabia this week, a move that would further isolate the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The organisation’s executive committee approved the idea and a decision will be made at the meeting starting in Makkah on Tuesday, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said in an interview from Jeddah on Monday.

“This recommendation will be submitted to the ministerial meeting today and then it will be submitted to the summit,” Ihsanoglu said. OIC foreign ministers were meeting in Jeddah on Monday.

Syria’s membership of the Arab League was suspended nine months ago and will remain frozen until it withdraws armoured units from cities, releases protesters and starts talks with the opposition. Iran, the closest ally of President Bashar al- Assad’s government, is an OIC member and will attend summit.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Monday said his country opposed the expected suspension of Syria’s membership in the OIC. “I’m openly against the suspension of the membership of any country, any organisation,” Salehi told reporters in Jeddah, seat of the 57-strong OIC of which allies Iran and Syria are members.

“By suspending the membership, this does not mean you are moving towards resolving an issue. By this, you are erasing the issue,” he said of the 17-month Syria conflict, “Every country, especially OIC countries must join hands to resolve this issue in such a way that will help the peace security and stability in the region,” he added on the eve of an OIC summit in Saudi Arabia.  The secretary general of the OIC, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, said war-ravaged Syria will not be represented in the summit. But foreign ministers gathered Monday to prepare the meeting were expected to “announce the suspension of Syria’s membership as recommended by member states,” Ihsanoglu said. On Monday, he told the meeting that he was “sorry Syria has entered a dark tunnel which has no clear end.” adding that this “is the expected outcome of ignoring the demands of the people.”

Syria is “living the horrors of a grinding war from which the OIC has repeatedly warned,” he said. Tuesday’s summit has been called by Saudi King Abdullah who is pushing to mobilise support for Syrian rebels battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Iran is Assad’s key supporter and has repeatedly warned against intervention in the 17-month conflict that has killed more than 21,000 people, according to monitoring groups.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Monday described the meeting as “a historic test for hosts and participants to protect the long-term goals, dignity and essential rights of Muslim nations.”  The regional situation is “a bit complicated,” the Islamic Republic News Agency cited Ahmadinejad as saying before he left Tehran. “Enemies use a significant portion of the energy of Muslim governments and groups for eliminating and damaging each other,” Ahmadinejad said.

Rebel forces shot down a Mig-23 jet over Deir Ezzor, Al- Arabiya television reported Monday, citing the Local Coordination Committees, an opposition group.  The jet had a technical fault which forced the pilot to eject and searches continue in order to find him, Syrian state television reported, citing an unnamed military official.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani who arrived here on Sunday to attend extra-ordinary meeting of OIC being held in Makkah, held meetings with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu, and Deputy Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah and discussed regional and international situation. During the meeting with Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, Hina exchanged views on the regional situation and international issues. Hina, appreciating the efforts of Saudi government to host extra ordinary summit of the OIC to discuss the regional situation especially the latest situation in Syria, expressed hope it will play important role in ensuring peace in region, strengthening bonds between members.