U.S. says terrorism grew in Syria because of Assad

Extremism and terrorism grew in Syria because of the oppressive environment created by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday.

Marie Harf, the deputy spokesperson for the State Department, made the remarks on Tuesday during her daily press briefing. When asked about the Obama administration's concern about the existence of al-Qaida factions in northern Syria, Harf said the U.S. is concerned about extremist elements in that part of the country. She blamed the presence of the terrorists on Assad and called on the opposition to reject such extremism.

"The reason there are these terrorists in Syria today creating so many problems is because the Assad regime created an environment for them to flourish, to plan, to plot, and indeed to undertake attacks there," Harf said. "So I think yesterday we were talking about some of this, and I think that's an important point to make. We're certainly concerned about it. That's why we've called on the opposition to reject this extremism, to coalesce around a moderate group and leadership, and that's the conversation we're going to continue with them going forward."

When asked if the U.S. could conduct Special Forces operations in northern Syria, Harf said such operations were not out of the question.

"Every situation is different," Harf said. "The threat picture everywhere is different and the operational picture everywhere is different. So wherever al-Qaida plots and plans against the U.S., there are different considerations you take into place in terms of how you counter it."