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“This outrageous act underlines how far beyond accepted behavior the Syrian regime has put itself, and I condemn it wholeheartedly,” Mr. Hague said in a statement. “The Assad regime should not make the mistake of believing that it can act with impunity. It will be held to account for its behavior.”

Mr. Hague met last week with former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League special envoy for Syria, for talks on plans for an international summit, while British officials discussed the issue in Geneva on Saturday with members of Mr. Annan’s team. Mr. Hague noted Sunday, “The UK stands ready to pursue robust action at the United Nations Security Council.”

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi decried the shooting down of the plane as “a further, very grave and unacceptable action by the Assad regime.” In a written statement, Mr. Terzi promised that Italy will play an active role in the NATO meeting Tuesday.

Syrian activists reported violence in different parts of the country Sunday, saying nearly 40 people were killed.

The deadliest incident was in the northern town of Ariha, where a shell hit a home, killing seven members of the same family, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.  A video posted online showed the seven men’s bodies, some badly mutilated, including one who had part of his head blown off.

Activists also reported intense shelling and clashes between rebels and troops in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour and the central city of Homs, which has been under a government attack for the past two weeks.

Earlier Sunday, activists said rebels captured a military base in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo and confiscated large amounts of ammunition. The Observatory said 16 government troops died in the attacks on the base near the rebel-held town of Daret Azzeh and nearby checkpoints early Sunday.

Area activist Mohammed Saeed said the rebels had removed hundreds of artillery shells from the base. Mr. Saeed added via Skype that troops retaliated with intense shelling of the area using helicopter gunships.

On Friday, state media said 25 people were kidnapped by “terrorists” and killed in Daret Azzeh. Activists said the 25 killed were pro-regime gunmen known as shabiha.

The Syrian state-run SANA news agency, meanwhile, said gunmen from Turkey clashed with Syrian border guards in Rabiah, a region in the coastal Latakia province. SANA said several infiltrators died in the late Saturday clash, while others reportedly returned to Turkey. It said several Syrian border guards were hurt, but it didn’t specify how many.

Turkey denies sheltering armed Syrian rebels, although many Syrian refugees have fled to camps on the Turkish side of the border.

Also on Sunday, Syrian opposition groups met in Brussels to hash out differences and plan for a democratic transition. The disparate groups are divided over whether outside military intervention would help or hurt and whether to engage in dialogue with Mr. Assad’s regime. The conference, attended by some 50 people, will continue Monday.

Jordanian Information Minister Sameeh Maaytah, meanwhile, said Sunday that three other Syrian pilots had defected last week, even before a pilot flew his warplane into neighboring Jordan. He said the other three crossed overland into Jordan. He was unsure if the four pilots knew each other or had coordinated their escape from Syria.


Associated Press writers Bassem Mroue in Beirut, Don Melvin in Brussels, Frances D’Emilio in Rome and Jamal Halaby in Jordan contributed to this report.

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