The Turkish military said Tuesday that special Sgt. Orhan Surmen was killed during the operation being conducted by Turkey inside the Syrian territory.
Security sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media, said Surmen was killed when he tried to pick up the Quran after he noticed it was on the floor, the Daily Sabah reported.
Ankara has been waging the so-called Operation Olive Branch against the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militants in the flashpoint region since January 20. It has said the offensive could extend to Manbij and beyond.
The military intervention came after the US said it would set up a 30,000-strong militant border force at Turkish doorstep. Ankara is wary of the presence of Kurdish militants close to its borders in Syria, and has been opposed to Washington's efforts to train and arm them in the Arab country.
Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group that has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said that Afrin should be cleared of “terrorists,” and demanded the deployment of Turkish troops there during a speech back in November 2016.
The Syrian government has condemned the Turkish offensive against Afrin, rejecting Ankara’s claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.
Operation Olive Branch is Turkey’s second major military intervention in Syria during the unprecedented foreign-backed militancy that broke out in 2011.