ANKARA - Turkey'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, a Turkish newspaper reported on Saturday.

Turkey has been carrying out a series of retaliatory strikes against President Bashar Assad's forces fighting rebels along the border since Syrian shelling killed five Turkish civilians in a Turkish frontier town at the start of October.

Tension between the two neighbors, once close allies, is at its highest since Ankara turned against Assad last year over his violent crackdown on anti-government protests.

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.

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