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Ukrainian army launches new offensive against rebels in east

Updated: 2015-02-10 21:47


Ukrainian army launches new offensive against rebels in east

People look at the remains of a rocket shell on a street in the town of Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine Feb 10, 2015. Three people were killed and 15 wounded in the rocket strike on the town of Kramatorsk on Tuesday, the government-controlled regional administration said in a statement.[Photo/Agencies]

KIEV - The Ukrainian army launched a "major offensive" to retake several towns that were seized earlier by pro-independence rebels in the country's restive east, authorities said Tuesday.

"The National Guard units broke through the enemy defenses and pushed forward to the attack," the press service of the National Security and Defense Council said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian self-defense battalion "Azov" said that as of Tuesday morning, government forces have advanced to the village of Pavlopol, some 30 km north of the eastern city of Mariupol.

In a statement on a Facebook page, "Azov" claimed that the insurgents are also losing grounds in the southern direction from Mariupol, saying Ukrainian forces have captured a rebel checkpoint near Sakhanka village.

In late January, rebel forces said they had launched an offensive in the direction of Mariupol, a strategic port city on the Azov Sea, which has been under control of government troops since June 2014.

On Jan. 24, Mariupol came under shelling of rocket fire, which hit an open-air market and nearby homes and shops, killing 30 civilians and wounding more than 100 others. The warring sides had accused each other of being responsible for the attack.

The rebel offensive on Mariupol marked a new wave of escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has killed over 5,300 people.

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