The United Nations estimates at least 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in Syrian fighting, which began in March 2011. Despite near universal condemnation of the violence, the U.N. Security Council has been unable to reach a consensus on Syria because of concerns by Russia and China that resolutions lacked balance.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Tuesday that any conflict along the Syrian border with Turkey shouldn't be seen as a reason for NATO intervention.
"In our contacts with our partners both in NATO and in the region, including on international forums, we have called on them not to look for pretexts in order to carry out a (military) operation," he was quoted by Russian news agency RT as saying.
NATO, under certain articles in its protocol, could seek justification to intervene because Turkey is a member of the alliance.
The Kremlin last year abstained from votes at the Security Council in favor of a no-fly zone over Libya. Moscow said foreign intervention in the Syrian civil war could be a destabilizing factor in the region.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]