Military Operations During The Turkish Invasion of Cyprus - Aphrodite Two Defence Plan and Counter Offensive - 20 July 1974

20 July 1974

At around 01:30, SEP/A radar set at Apostlos Andreas, on the Karpasia Peninsula, detected eleven Turkish ships approaching Kyrenia at a distance of 35 nautical miles (65 km).

At around 05:00, two Greek Cypriot motor torpedo boats, the T-1 and T-3, were dispatched from Kyrenia harbour to engage the Turkish naval flotilla which had now been detected approaching the coastline. The T-1 was hit by 40mm anti-aircraft fire and sank, while a few minutes later, the T-3 was destroyed by combined fire from ships and aircraft, and sank with the loss of all but one of its crew.

At around 06:00, a company of Turkish paratroopers was dropped over Mia Millia, just north of Nicosia, right on top of Greek Cypriot forces approaching Geunyeli. Of the estimated 120 troops dropped, a total of 93 were killed or wounded, and 1 captured, while the rest escaped.

At around 07:30, a battalion of 550 troops of the ELDYK contingent, supported by 19 tanks of the 23 EMA Medium Tank battalion, as well as one Cypriot National Guard company, commenced an attack on the Turkish enclave of Geunyeli, just north-west of Nicosia. Geunyeli was a strategic target due to its position controlling the Nicosia-Kyrenia main road, and had to be captured by the Greeks in order to ensure reinforcements to Kyrenia. This enclave was heavily fortified by the Turkish forces, in preparation for just such a siege, and was protected by bunkers, machine gun nests and anti-tank trenches. Positioned within the enclave was the Geunyeli Group of the TOURDYK contingent of the Turkish Army, comprising the 2PB 2nd Infantry Company, 3PB 3rd Infantry Company and the ASB Heavy Weapons Company.

The attack began with the shelling of Geunyeli by tanks and artillery, which resulted in a Turkish reply via air attacks, but because of the prevailing smoke from bombardment and smoke mortars, these proved to be largely inaccurate. An attempt by the Greek Cypriots to make a direct coordinated attack with their tanks resulted in disaster, with two T-34s destroyed by artillery, and two T-34s becoming trapped in an anti-tank ditch. As the battle progressed, Turkish parachutists continued to drop in and around the enclave, leading to some unavoidable casualties.

The 185MPP artillery battalion, based at Camp "Andreas Karvou" at Athalassa, Nicosia, equipped with twelve 25-pounder guns and six anti-aircraft guns (four .50cal and two 14.5mm) moved to its firing positions outside the camp. Before it could commence attack of Geunyeli, however, it was attacked by the Turkish Air Force, resulting in the loss of five 25-pounder guns and six soldiers. Its remaining guns shelled Geunyeli and then moved at midday to the vicinity of the Abbey Makedonitisas.

The 184MGP artillery company, also based at Camp "Andreas Karvou", managed to rescue its armament of six 25-pounder guns and two .50cal anti-aircraft guns from the burning base following the air attack, though it lost three personnel killed. It initially fired shots from the camp at Geunyeli, before moving with the 185MPP to Abbey Makedonitisas, where it continued to fire on Geunyeli, and received a Turkish air attack without loss.

The Greeks withdrew to the south-west and then called for reinforcements for a second coordinated attack using their remaining 15 tanks, and the 361st and 399th infantry battalions, these new forces tasked to circling in from the north and east to encircle and destroy the enclave. However the coordinated attack, planned for 18:00, failed to take place as the 399 battalion was delayed by fighting with Turkish Cypriot militia. When the 399th battalion arrived, it attempted to attack the enclave on its own, but achieveed little success and so withdrew.

A around 10:00, 450 EOKA-B fighters of the 203rd reserve infantry battalion attacked the Turkish Cypriot enclave at Limassol, where approximately 1,000 lightly armed inhabitants were situated. Simultaneously, 100 EOKA-B fighters engaged the Turkish Cypriot enclave of Avdimou, west of Limassol, rounding up Turkish Cypriots as POWs to be taken to the main stadium at Limassol.

At around 17:00, the Greek landing craft vessel HS Lesvos (L-176) arrived at Paphos and began to shell Turkish-Cypriot positions at the enclave close to the harbour with her 40mm anti-aircraft guns. The vessel then unloaded some 450 troops of the ELDYK replacement force at Paphos, and immediately headed back out to sea to evade the enemy. Lesvos was interpreted by the Turks as part of a larger task force, ultimately leading to the arrival of the three Turkish destroyers which the Turkish Air Force mistakenly attacked.

At 18:00, Security Council Resolution 353 was adopted unanimously. A cease-fire was to take effect on July 22 at 16:00.

At around 22:00, the Turkish Cypriot militia in Paphos issued a general surrender. At the same time, Turkish Cypriot militia and civilians in Famagusta took cover behind the walls of the old city and prepared for a siege.

At 23:00, the Greek Cypriot mountain commando forces launched a coordinated night attack just north of the Agyrta-Nicosia enclave, attempting to secure and blockade the Agyrta-Nicosia pass through the Pentedaktylos mountains. The 31MK and 33MK Commando attacked from the west, while the 32MK and 34MK Commando attacked from the east.

Read more about this topic:  Military Operations During The Turkish Invasion Of Cyprus, Aphrodite Two Defence Plan and Counter Offensive

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