NICOSIA, Cyprus, Thursday, Aug. 15—Turkish forces, which began a heavy air and ground attack early yesterday, appeared, today to be on their way toward seizing control of much of northern Cyprus.
A strong air strife on Nicosia sent thousands of Greek Cypriots fleeing southward. Last night, after a daylong battle in and around Nicosia, a ceasefire for the capital area was agreed to. The truce had been urged by the United Nations.
[Reuters reported this morning that the cease‐fire had been interrupted, at least temporarily, by machine‐gun and mortar fire in Nicosia. The shooting took place across the Green Line, which divides Greek and Turkish enclaves, and which was a scene of retreat by outnumbered Greek Cypriots yes. terday.]
Turkish armored columns pushed east during the day, and late last night they were approaching the eastern coastal city of Famagusta. Its capture would establish by force a Turkish partition plan for Cyprus that Greece rejected at the Geneva peace talks.
Units Move Westward
Other Turkish units were reported moving westward to ward Lefka in the west.
Three United Nations soldiers from Austria were killed during the day and 23 United Nations soldiers were wounded when caught between opposing units. There were no reports of casualties among the Greek Cypriotes or the Turks.
The first bombs hit military and industrial areas around Nicosia yesterday at 5 A.M., a few hours after the peace talks in Geneva had collapsed. The attacking Turkish planes were fired at by antiaircraft batteries.
The main Turkish thrust was eastward toward Famagusta where some 12,000 Turkish Cypriots had been under siege in the old walled quarter of the city.
The Turks reportedly moved toward Famagusta in three parallel columns, one just a few miles south of the coastal mountain range, another on the new highway to the city and the third farther south along the old road. At 6 P.M. they were reported 15 miles from their objective, and later in the evening 5 miles away.
The old road runs from the British military base at Dhekelia, one of two that Britain holds as sovereign areas on the island, and the possibility of a confrontation between the Turks and British army units was worrying British diplomats and others.
The Turks struck Famagusta by air early yesterday. The night befere thousands of Greek Cypriot residents began to flee in expectation of a Turkish attack.
Before the Nicosia cease‐fire was arranged, Turkish units also appeared to be trying to encircle the capital. On the southwest heavy fighting broke out near the airport, where the United Nations headquarters are situated.
Eleven Finnish members of the 4,400 man United Nations peace‐keeping contingent were wounded in the crossfire between the Turks and Greek Cypriots. Six Finns were wounded in Greek‐Turkish fighting at Mia Milea to the northwest of the capital, near the jumping off point of the Turkish offensive.
In the southeast three Austrians traveling along the Nicosia‐Larnaca road in a United Nations Land‐Rover were killed when a Turkish plane bombed the road. One Canadian and five British members of the United Nations forces were also reported wounded.
The Turkish attacks on the east and west appeared to suggest an effort to form a solid unit in the northern part of the island in accordance with their original plans for establishing an autonomous Turkish‐Cypriot community covering about 30 per cent of the island’s land.
The community accounts for only 18 per cent of the total population of about 650,000. Turkish villages or parts of villages are scattered in the center and south as well.
The Greek Cypriot radio said 10 Turkish planes had been downed. But except for antiaircraft batteries, the Greeks had nothing to oppose the Turkish planes, which bombed such targets as the radio station and the Greek Cypriot headquarters a will. The, Turks were estimated to have 250 to 300 modern tanks, while the Greek Cypriots could muster only nine old tanks. No Greek planes were seen.
Clouds of black smoke rose over Nicosia as the bombing and artillery and mortar fire went on for most of the day.
Streets were deserted as thousands of Greek Cypriots fled south by car. The road south to the port of Larnaca and the southern road to Limassol were under intermittent Turkish attack most of the day.
On the southwest outskirts of Nicosia the Hilton Hotel was quickly filled with civilians—Greek Cypriots and foreign refugees including many old people and children. The Red Cross declared it a neutral security zone along with the smaller Cleopatra Hotel nearby, and strung large Red Cross flags from each of them.
But a Greek military camp across the street was a target for Turkish planes and three rockets fell on the hotel’s grounds. Fragments of one nicked a Columbia Broadcasting System cameraman, Carl Sorensen, as he was driving into the hotel grounds with other television crewmen. The hotel serves as a center for the foreign press.
International Telex and telex phone links were out a few hours after the Turkish attack began. But later calls from such points as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beirut were accepted for newsmen.
A psychiatric hospital close by a Greek Cypriot camp was hit for a second time in less than a month. Three bombs struck outbuildings, injuring 36 patients and 3 staff members. In the previous attack, a direct hit on a ward killed 27 patients and wounded nearly 100.
The Nicosia General Hospital was also hit by a Turkish mortar, but there were no reports of casualties.
The Turkish Cypriot radio called for surrender of the Greek Cypriot military and paramilitary forces, but the Greek Cypriot radio, which stayed on the air despite the air and artillery attacks, called for resistance. Later in the day, however, it became evident that unless outside help came, the Greeks would not be able to stop the Turkish drive.
Trying to slow the Turks, Greek Cypriots planted mines south of the city between the two main southerly roads to Larnaca and Limassol. The Greek Cypriots also reoccupied Turkish Cypriot towns that they had evacuated in a goodwill gesture Sunday and Monday. The towns included Paphos in the extreme southwest, Mandria, near Larnaca, and part of Larnaca.
The Greeks Cypriots were dissuaded by United Nations delegates from moving into the Turkish part of Larnaca but they occupied the seafront.