On 20 July 1974 at 5:45 am started the ‘Attila operation’ or 'Cyprus peace operation'.
Turkey engaged in battle 40.000 allied soldiers to 20.000 Turkish Cypriot militiamen against 12.000 Greek Cypriot.The Cypriot National Guard just overthrew the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III. Turkey pleaded the protection of the Turkish Cypriot community and responded to the coup by the invasion of the island. Turkish troops landed massively from barges. Paratroopers landed between Kyrenia and Nicosia. The Navy and the Airforce were deployed too. Ceasefire is signed after few day of fighting. Between 14 and 16 August, ‘Attila II operation’ ended by the occupation of 38% of the territory of Cyprus.
The Turkish occupation was terrible. Many atrocities were committed. The Greek population was forced to leave the North of Cyprus. Prisoners were tortured, thousands of people were gone missing after being kidnapped and jailed. Some of them never came back. Militiamen and Turkish soldiers raped many women.
Turkey destroyed an important part of the cultural and religious heritage of the North of Cyprus. Since 1974, 55 churches have been converted into mosques and another 50 monasteries and religious buildings into hostels, stables or were destroyed. Those acts have been targeting the Greek-Orthodox cult places. Destruction and expulsion haven’t concerned that much the Maronite community from the North of Cyprus probably because of pressure exercised by the Patriarchy in Lebanon. Murals and icons which weren’t destroyed were often placed on the market of arts by looters. In 2011, the British singer Boy George returned to the Church of Cyprus an 18th century icon in his possession. He was unaware that it was decorating the church of Saint Charalampus beside Nicosia.
Today the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey. 200,000 Greek Cypriots mostly Orthodox were pushed to leave their houses in the North of the island. Turkey is a secular state but chase out of territories under its control everything which is not Muslim. Exodus of Christian from North shows this fact. 1,600 Greek Cypriot are still missing. Graveyards and churches were ransacked. Cities have been emptied of their inhabitants.