ANKARA: NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the Western alliance had no intention of intervening in Syria even in the event of a UN mandate to protect civilians, and urged Middle East countries to find a way to end the spiralling violence.
Rasmussen told Reuters on Friday he also rejected the possibility of providing logistical support for proposed "humanitarian corridors" to ferry relief to towns and cities bearing the brunt of President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
"We have no intention whatsoever to intervene in Syria," Rasmussen said in an interview, during a visit to mark the 60th anniversary of Turkey joining the alliance.
While NATO had acted under a United Nations mandate to protect civilians in Libya and had also received active support from several fellow Arab countries, neither condition had been fulfilled in Syria.
Asked if NATO's stance would change if the United Nations provided a mandate, Rasmussen was doubtful.
"No, I don't think so because Syria is also a differrent society, it is much more complicated ethnically, politically, religiously. That's why I do believe that a regional solution should be found," he said.
Thousands of civilians have been killed by Syrian security forces since an uprising against Assad's rule began last March. The government says more than 2,000 soldiers and police have been killed by foreign-backed "terrorists".
International powers along with the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League will meet in Tunis on Feb. 24 as part of a newly-created "Friends of Syria Group" to look for a way out of a crisis that has raised fears of wider sectarian strife between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.