MOSCOW Russia told NATO and world powers on Tuesday they should not seek ways to intervene in the Syrian war or set up buffer zones between rebels and government forces.
The statements from Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov was one of Moscow's most specific warnings yet to the West and Gulf Arab leaders to keep out of the 18-month-old conflict.
"In our contacts with partners in NATO and in the region, we are calling on them not to seek pretexts for carrying out a military scenario or to introduce initiatives such as humanitarian corridors or buffer zones," Gatilov said, according to the Interfax news agency.
Russia and China have vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and blocked attempts to impose sanctions on the country or intervene more directly in its conflict.
Syria's neighbour Turkey has floated the idea of setting up "safe zones" inside Syria to protect civilians but that would also have to be approved by the Security Council.
Gatilov urged restraint between Syria and NATO-member Turkey, one of Assad's harshest critics. Ankara has repeatedly complained of artillery and gunfire spilling over its border and last week it signalled it would take action if there was a repeat of a mortar strike on its territory from inside Syria.
"We believe both Syrian and Turkish authorities should exercise maximum restraint in this situation, taking into account the risings number of radicals among the Syrian opposition who can intentionally provoke conflicts on the border," Gatilov was quoted as saying.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Andrew Heavens)