Ergin Yaman still remembers the horror of the bombing near his flower shop in central Ankara three years ago. That day, the 42-year-old waded through bodies as he rushed to help after a car bomb struck a row of bus stops in the Turkish capital. The attack, conducted by a group that Ankara sees as closely linked to Kurdish militias in north-east Syria, helps explain why Mr Yaman supports the Syrian incursion launched this week by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. If anything, he said, “it’s long overdue”.
While the western world has condemned the operation, in Turkey it has been backed even by some groups viscerally opposed to Mr Erdogan. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the country’s main opposition party, sent his blessings to the Turkish military and wished them a swift victory. The front page of Sozcu, the country’s best-selling anti-government newspaper, on Thursday bore an image of burning Syrian houses with the headline: “Traitors turned to smoke”.
The assault has triggered warnings about a resurgence of Isis as the Kurdish fighters, backed by the US in the campaign against the Sunni jihadis, divert their attention to warding off a Turkish attack. Donald Trump, who seemingly gave the green light to an operation by pulling US troops in the region out of harm ‘s way, has faced accusations of betrayal from Kurdish forces and their champions in Washington.