Egypt's new president slammed the Syrian government and called for support for opposition forces Thursday.
Egypt's Mohamed Morsy called President Bashar al-Assad's government "an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy." He said backing the opposition is "a moral obligation, and a political and strategic step that comes in our belief of a new independent Syria."
Morsy made the remarks at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Iran, whose theocratic Shiite regime backs al-Assad. It was the first visit by an Egyptian president to Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979.
Two weeks ago, at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's summit in Saudi Arabia, Morsy spoke of Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey working together to deal with the Syrian crisis. He was quoted by Egypt's Ahram Online as saying "it is time for the Syrian regime to leave."
On Thursday in Iran, the Syrian delegation at the summit walked out in protest during Morsy's speech and returned after he finished. The president's remarks were being aired live on Syrian state media, but they were cut short.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem on State TV called the remarks inciting and an interference in Syria's internal affairs.
Morsy's support of the Syrian opposition reflects his solidarity with the people who took to the streets during the Arab Spring, the popular label for the democratic movements that swept across the Middle East and North Africa last year.
The grassroots opposition that forced the departure of President Hosni Mubarak and the collapse of his autocratic and pro-West regime last year led to this year's democratic election of Morsy.
Egypt is the most populous Arab country and is very influential, and Morsy's remarks underscore the isolation of al-Assad's regime in the Arab world, particularly among Sunnis.
Al-Assad is opposed by Sunni nations like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and his domestic opposition is predominantly Sunni. His regime is dominated by minority Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Muslims.
Morsy is long affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood's political movement, which is a traditionally Islamist movement.
In other developments:
Rebels report shooting down a jet
The Free Syrian Army shot down a military jet fighter in Idlib province, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.
Amateur video shot by activists shows an aircraft with smoke coming from it and the pilot ejecting from the aircraft.
There was no immediate reaction from the Syrian government.
Bread lines attacked, rights groups says
Syrian forces have bombed and fired near 10 bakeries in Aleppo province, killing dozens and maiming others, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.
In one attack two weeks ago, at least 60 people died, the group said.
"Day after day, Aleppo residents line up to get bread for their families, and instead get shrapnel piercing their bodies from government bombs and shells," said Ole Solvang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, who has just returned from Aleppo. "Ten bakery attacks is not random -- they show no care for civilians and strongly indicate an attempt to target them."
Government forces attack 'terrorist groups'
At least 94 people died across Syria on Thursday, the LCC said. At least 26 of those deaths occurred in Damascus and its suburbs and an additional 26 in Idlib province.
Syrian state media said military forces attacked "armed terrorist groups" Thursday in various provinces, including Aleppo.
"The operations resulted in the killing and injury of a large number of terrorists and the destruction of their dens," the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said. The government has said its forces are battling terrorists, a term the regime uses to describe those seeking the president's ouster.
Demonstrators protest president's remarks