Yemen’s power transfer deal, which allowed President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, is no longer a suitable model for a solution in Syria, the Turkish foreign minister said at a news conference in Sanaa on Saturday.
“The Yemen solution was suitable for Syria nine months ago,” Ahmet Davutoglu told the news conference with his Yemeni counterpart. “But now, because every country has its own special circumstances and due to the latest developments on the Syrian arena which saw the use of artillery and the air force in bombarding Syrian cities, this has narrowed the room for implementing such solutions.”
Tension between the Syrian and Turkey, once close allies, is at its highest since Ankara turned against President Bashar al-Assad last year over his violent crackdown on anti-government protests.
‘Turkey fired on Syria 87 times’
Turkey has also been carrying out a series of retaliatory strikes against Assad’s forces fighting anti-regime fighters the border since Syrian shelling killed five Turkish civilians in a Turkish frontier town at the start of October.
A Turkish newspaper on Saturday, said that the country’s military has fired on Syria 87 times, killing 12 Syrian soldiers and destroying several tanks in retaliation for Syrian shells and mortars landing on Turkish territory.
The report in the daily Milliyet newspaper, written by columnist Fikret Bila who is known to have good contacts with the military, cited unnamed military sources. Turkey’s military, which rarely talks in public, could not be reached for comment.
The report said the retaliatory fire had been in response to 27 mortars or shells fired from Syria. Turkey had responded to every incident, it said.
Twelve Syrian soldiers had been killed as a result of Turkish fire, the report said. Five Syrian tanks, three armored vehicles, one mortar weapon, one ammunition vehicle and two anti-aircraft guns had also been destroyed and many other military vehicles had been damaged.
Eighteen mortar shells fired from Syria had landed in the Akcakale district of Sanliurfa province, where five Turkish civilians were killed this month, while nine had landed in Hatay province further to the west, according to the report.
Turkey had fired 69 times from Hatay and 18 times from Akcakale, it said.
The report also stated that Turkish F-16 war planes were on high alert at the Incirlik air base in Adana, some 100 km (62 miles) from the Syrian border. The fighters had been scrambled as recently as Friday in response to Syrian helicopters flying close to the shared border, it said.
Turkey’s Chief-of-Staff General Necdet Ozel said this month that his troops would respond "with greater force" if shells continued to land on Turkish soil, and parliament has also authorised the deployment of troops beyond Turkey, heightening fears that Syria’s civil war could drag in regional powers.
Syria conflict continues
Davutoglu called on Friday for all sides involved in the Syrian conflict to observe a ceasefire during the Islamic Eid al-Adha festival next week.
But Syrian regime forces and rebels clashed around a besieged army base near the strategic northern town of Maaret al-Numan on Saturday, an AFP correspondent said.
Machinegun fire and explosions rang out from Wadi Deif base on the eastern outskirts of the town, which has since come under heavy army bombardment and air strikes since rebels seized it on October 9.
The AFP correspondent on Saturday saw 15 tanks deployed around the base to defend it, some camouflaged among olive trees.
The sprawling Wadi Deif base, about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) outside Maaret al-Numan, is surrounded by watchtowers and mounds of earth.
Anti-Assad fighters said up to 500 soldiers are holed up inside the base. Military helicopters have been seen dropping supplies that often miss their target and instead land behind rebel lines or in no-man’s land.
The fighters have besieged Wadi Deif from three sides, including from positions along the highway that runs from Damascus to the key northern city of Aleppo, a stretch of several kilometers (miles) which they hold.
Regime air strikes have targeted the rebel-controlled areas along the key highway with 500-kilogram (1000-pound) bombs.
On Saturday morning, a warplane made a low pass dropping a bomb on the city itself that caused no casualties. Another warplane later bombed the city’s outskirts after several passes at very low altitude.
Maaret al-Numan’s streets were largely deserted on Saturday morning, although a fragile calm allowed some residents to gather supplies and families to briefly visit their abandoned homes.