By Esra Kaymak Avci
WASHINGTON (AA) – The terrorist PKK group and the YPG might be connected, the State Department said for the first time Friday.
"I can't categorically say that there's not, you know, any connections," spokesman Mark Toner said during a press briefing.
The U.S. still considered these two groups as "separate entities" and would continue to advise and assist the YPG in anti-Daesh operations in northern Syria, he added.
The YPG is the armed wing of the PYD -- the Syrian offshoot of PKK, which is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
While Turkey views the PYD and YPG as terrorist groups, Washington continues to support the YPG as an "effective partner" in the fight against Daesh.
The U.S. has provided air cover to the group and U.S. troops have been sent on an advise and assist mission to help the YPG fight Daesh.
Toner's comments come one day after images surfaced of U.S. troops wearing YPG patches during an operation in Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of Daesh in northern Syria.
The U.S. did not immediately comment on the issue.
Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey grew with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu saying Friday that it was "unacceptable" for U.S. soldiers to wear an insignia of a terrorist organization as America is an ally of Turkey.
"Our suggestion to them is that they should also wear Daesh, al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda insignias during their operations in other regions of Syria. They can also wear the Boko Haram insignia when they go to Africa," Cavusoglu said.
Asked to comment on Cavusoglu's remarks and whether it could signal a crisis between the U.S. and Turkey, Toner declined, citing "operational security."
He said the U.S. understands Turkey's concerns regarding northern Syria and would continue to work through those issues by providing stronger border security and doing other things that could strengthen the relationship with Ankara.
"Turkey ... continues to be an active member and we're grateful for Turkey's support," he said.