NATO’s secretary general said Wednesday that military intervention in Syria was “not the right path” despite the increasingly deteriorating situation there, AFP reported.

Speaking at a press conference in Canberra, Australia, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the alliance had no plans to intervene in the Syrian conflict. He added that Russia could play a critical role in brokering an effective ceasefire between President Bashar Assad and rebels.

Rasmussen’s comments followed those by the UN’s peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsou, who said on Tuesday that the violence in Syria has escalated into civil war.

Rasmussen declined to make a similar statement. “I’m not a legal expert, so from a legal point of view I don’t know if we can characterize what is going on as a civil war,” he said. “But definitely and very clearly the situation in Syria is very serious, and we have seen horrendous acts conducted by the regime and forces loyal to the regime.”

He added that the “political, ethnic and religious complexities” of Syria make military intervention a far more difficult prospect than the 2011 NATO-led effort in Libya.

Rasmussen said that important Syrian ally Russia should facilitate a solution based on Kofi Annan’s UN ceasefire plan, but called Russia’s consistent vetoing of UN resolutions against the Syrian regime an “unfortunate signal” for Assad.

Kieran Dwyer, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping department, says UN observers have seen a steep escalation of violence and a dangerous shift in tactics by both sides in Syria in the last five days.

The Syrian government seems intent on wresting back control of many rebel-held areas and is shelling heavily populated districts and using attack helicopters over cities “with devastating impact on civilians,” Dwyer said.

In turn, the opposition is increasingly coordinating attacks against government forces and civilian infrastructure, and “the conflict has reached all parts of Syria virtually,” Dwyer said.