Ukraine rebels push to take Donetsk airport

Oct 02, 2014, 6:52 AM EDT
Servicemen of the National Guard of Ukraine line up after receiving a combat equipment and ammunition on their training base in Novi Petrivtsi, outside Kiev, on September 30, 2014.
AFP/Getty Images

Rebel forces in eastern Ukraine are conducting an offensive to capture the government-held airport in Donetsk, officials say. The BBC writes:

Pro-Russian rebels have tried several times in recent weeks to take the airport, which lies to the north-west of the city. The insurgents continued an offensive - begun on Wednesday - on "a broad front", the Ukrainian military says.

An official truce in place in eastern Ukraine has often been violated.

The ceasefire was called on 5 September, but on Wednesday four people were killed by a shell which landed on a school in Donetsk, and six died when a minibus was hit.

A spokesman for what the Ukrainian government calls its anti-terrorist operation said Ukrainian forces repelled four attacks on the airport on Wednesday evening.

A T-64 tank was destroyed and seven rebels were killed, Vladyslav Seleznyov told Kanal 5 TV.

The rebels used tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems, artillery and mortars, he said, resuming their attacks on Thursday morning with small-arms fire.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Wednesday that Moscow had a duty to temper pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, a spokesman for the German government said. The Moscow Times writes:

"The German chancellor emphasized the responsibility Russia has to exert a moderating influence on pro-Russian separatists. She said the negotiated cease-fire needs to finally be respected in its entirety," Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

He said the leaders had expressed concern that violence was still being used in Ukraine every day.

The Kremlin said in a statement that during the call, initiated by the German side, the two leaders talked about the importance of withdrawal of heavy weapons by both fighting sides.

"Vladimir Putin stressed the need to prevent further attacks on civilian objects by Ukrainian subdivisions in the southeast of Ukraine," the Kremlin said in its statement.

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