killed in eastern Ukraine in fierce fighting
Send a link to a friend
[July 29, 2014]
KIEV/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) -
Intense fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels in
eastern Ukraine killed dozens of civilians, soldiers and rebels, as Kiev
pressed on with an offensive on Tuesday including near the wreckage of
Malaysian flight MH 17.
Ukrainian forces have been pushing rebel units back towards their
two main urban strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk and have sought to
encircle them in several places. The government says its forces have
retaken several villages in the rolling countryside near where the
airliner crashed on July 17.
Officials said up to 17 people, including children, were killed in
fighting on Monday evening in the town of Horlivka, a rebel
stronghold north of Donetsk that saw fierce battles between the
rival forces in the last few days.
In the city of Luhansk, officials said five civilians were killed
when shelling hit a retirement home.
"The enemy is throwing everything it has into the battle to complete
encirclement of the DNR," Igor Strelkov, a Muscovite rebel
commander, told journalists in Donetsk on Monday evening, referring
to the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic".
A rebel source in Donetsk said reinforcements including military
equipment and fighters had arrived across the nearby border from
Russia into Ukraine. Reuters was not able to confirm that
Rebel leaders insist publicly that Moscow is not supplying them.
Russia also denies Western accusations that it is supporting the
rebellion with arms and troops.
A spokesman for Ukraine's Security Council, Andriy Lysenko, blamed
Russia for shelling a Ukrainian border crossing point and military
positions from across the border to help the rebels.
Western countries say Moscow has stepped up its support for the
rebels since the downing of the airliner, which Washington says was
almost certainly shot down accidentally by rebels using an advanced
Russian-made surface-to-air missile.
The biggest confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold
War is expected to enter a new phase this week with the first
broad-based sanctions designed to hurt sectors of Russia's economy
as a whole rather than hit a few specific individuals, a result of
new pressure since the airliner was brought down.
But meanwhile on the ground, fighting has only intensified, with
Ukrainian government forces trying to press on with an offensive
that saw them push rebels out of their bastion of Slaviansk at the
start of the month.
[to top of second column]
Rebels have dug into Donetsk for a stand inside a city with a
pre-war population of nearly 1 million. Fighting has also
intensified in towns and villages near the border, where the
government says it aims to assert control to block rebel
reinforcements and arms shipments from Russia.
Leaders of the
United States and major European powers agreed in a teleconference
on Monday to impose sanctions on Russia's banking, technology and
arms sectors over its backing for the separatists.
Lysenko said 10 Ukrainian soldiers were killed over the last 24
hours. Strelkov said his side had lost 30 fighters killed and
Plans to open a humanitarian corridor in Luhansk to allow residents
to flee the fighting failed. The United Nations says more than
100,000 people have already fled Ukraine's tumultuous east.
Violence in the region also frustrated international experts'
efforts to access the plane crash site for a third day. A Dutch
police mission said it abandoned plans to travel there on Tuesday
because of fighting along the route.
Fighting has impeded recovery of some of the remains from flight
MH17 and undermined a probe that will be crucial as Kiev and the
West trade recriminations with Moscow over the downing of the Boeing
airliner. All 298 people on board were killed.
(Reporting by Natalia Zinets and Gabriela Baczynska in Kiev,
Aleksandar Vasovic in Donetsk, Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam; Editing
by Peter Graff)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.