The Battle of Kotza Kaya | Makis Economides’ testimony – “One of the best operations in the world” – Photos & VIDEO

Defence Redefined
Published on 21/07/2021 at 09:59

The Battle of Kotza Kaya hill on the Pentadaktylos mountain range, located north of the village of Agyrta and south of the castle of Agios Hilarion, was crucial in order to block the main Nicosia – Kyrenia highway, and thus control and eliminate the strategically important foundation that Turkish Cypriots had created in this passage. 

The operation highlighted the high level of Cyprus Special Forces, their hard training, excellent coordination of movements, but also the military intelligence of both Cypriot and Greek Officers.  

Below you can read about the operation, as narrated by the then Lieutenant of the 13th Strike Company and now President of the Pancyprian Association of Reserve Special Forces, Makis Economides. 


Also read: The “Mountain of Silence” | The tragic destruction of 181 MPP in 1974 VIDEO

“Saturday, July 20, 1974. More than twelve hours have gone by since the beginning of the Turkish operation to occupy Cyprus. The special forces are constantly fighting on all fronts. One operation succeeds another.

31 ΜΚ @psek.org

The time is 18:30. The 11th, 12th and 13th Strike Companies of the 31st Special Forces Squadron have just completed the topographic briefing on makeshift sandpits on the hill of Aetofolia. A new operation awaits them: The occupation of the Turkish Special Forces Camp on the Kotza Kaya hill, which has been reinforced by paratroopers who stepped on the holy lands of Cyprus in the morning.

At dusk, the 13th Strike Company sets off, after the imposed individual uniform check. Stop at the Prophet Elias church, which we came across. The Captain remembers that it is his name day. In the evening, at 21:00, the advance towards the enemy’s back takes place through the symbolic embankment near the watchtower.

The 13th Strike Company crosses the gorge. An utterly unorthodox and extremely dangerous act. This was the only way so that the enemy would not be waiting for us. We reach the forest of Agyrta. Avoiding Turkish patrols that do not even think we are within walking distance. The 11th and 12th Strike Companies are moving to the same objective. The terrain is rough and inaccessible. We move climbing. Ammunition boxes are constantly in different hands. We climb using our legs and arms. Fires everywhere.

On the left, the castle of Agios Hilarion emerges haunted. Amid the smoke. My God, thank you for letting us get here. Agios Hilarion had become an obsession for the special forces all those years. In the military battles of the Squadrons, the sign for each Squadron was the competitive chorus was “We will first reach Agios Hilarion…”

The time is 22:55. Arrival outside the camp. The group of 22 men, having two scouters, intersects the white path, made of limestone mortar. Everyone takes their position. Only the cricket interrupts the night calm. An owl flutters its wings. We all stay down and hardly breathe. At the same time, the 11th Company takes its position, ready for the capture of the pillboxes on the east.

The 12th Company assumes the responsibility of the north. An infinite silence reigns. The evening stillness sits on her throne. The special forces no longer feel anything. They anxiously await the signal to strike. Time is infinite. Zero hour.

The Captain climbs the stone wall. He falls on the guard. He shoots him instantly. Immediate mobilization of the team. We enter the camp barracks. The staff, mainly Turkish paratroopers, are sitting cross-legged. They are resting unsuspectingly. Torches are seen in the corners. No reaction. The surprise attack is utterly successful.

At the same time, the pillboxes are occupied by the 11th and 12th Companies. A flare used by the Captain of the 13th Strike Company marked the target engagement. Mission accomplished. The time is 23:15. Area and military supply checks. We are placing enemy machine guns in suitable positions and taking our positions to deal with possible counterattacks.

It is midnight. A signal arrives that the 32nd Special Forces Squadron is facing problems in operation “Aspris Mouttis”. The Commander of the 13th Strike Company, with 2 gunners (one from Arsos and the other from Mammari), hurries to reinforce the operation with cover fire.

In a little while the expected begins. At the foothills, Turks are preparing to attack. They light fires and begin shouting under the guidance of the leaders. They are directed towards us. They see us as easy prey.

Κύπριοι καταδρομείς @psek.org

The battle is fierce. The Turks retaliate furiously. It is literally a hand-to-hand battle. The bullets buzz vehemently above and next to our heads like wasps. There is no silence or stopping between shots. A 50mm Turkish Browning machine gun, war booty, placed by us almost on the ridge, breaks them from a distance of about three meters. The attacking sections are disbanded. The same scene is repeated until dawn.

The time is now 05:00, July 21. It’s dawn. It is announced that the infantry battalion that should have come to take the hill is unable to carry out its mission. We are in enemy territory, attacking from all directions. Even from Agios Hilarion.

Corpses are scattered on the hill. Crows fly over the area. The counterattacks have ended. We are exploring the camp area. The Commander’s Office. The beds are out of the barracks. Posted position cards with photographs. Thirst. We cool our lips with traces of water from a barrel of oil.

Noon. Issuance of a new order. The 11th Strike Company is to intercept landing forces in Karavas. The 12th and 13th Strike Companies are to move towards the passage of Agios Pavlos to deal with paratroopers. Reconstruction in Aetofolia.

We are expelling the Company. We stay behind with Lieutenant Elias Glentze. He sets an ambush in the area with Olympian calm and I cover him. The Turks are timidly approaching. They are a few meters away. When the ambush is set, we open the fence with surprise fire. We take the path with the fallen tree. In the midst of stormy fires we march quickly to the friendly sections.

Monday, 15:00. St. Paul Crossing. Invitation card. Dead silence. Only the rustling of the leaves accompanies our silence. Christoforou Christoforos, from Potamos tou Kampos, of Class 74A is missing.

The time is 15:30 and it is still boiling. All in the position of attention. Sleepy eyes. Dry lips. Hurt bodies. Major Alexandros Maniatis shouts: ”Morale? ”

The answer is one and only. Deep and lengthy: ”High!”

In less than an hour, the 31st Special Forces Squadron undertook the new mission of the then supposedly truce.”

According to the testimony of Makis Economides in Sigmalive and the journalist Nikolas Zannetos, the Battle of Kotza Kaya is taught at the Military School of Israel as one of the best operations in the world. 

Κύπριοι καταδρομείς @psek.org

Watch the full interview here: 

* Cover photo: Men of the 31st Special Forces Squadron, with the Turkish flag as booty from the battle of Mansoura @ psek.org

Also read: Testimony 1974 | “In 336 he held Nicosia, the order of the Flour Cook, the order of Famagusta” 




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