Self-defense militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics are carrying out operations to push Ukrainian troops far back from large cities and deny them a possibility to shell densely populated residential areas with artillery and mortar fire.
Luhansk fighters are actively advancing north of the city, the local news agency Novorossiya reported on Friday, citing the militia’s combat reports.
“The situation in the north of Luhansk has improved and the militia has been able to seize the settlement of Privetnoye after a fourth attempt, making an advance from the village of Stukalova Balka,” Novorossiya said.
The militia headquarters “have received information that our fighters are storming the enemy positions in Shishkovo,” Novorossiya said.
Luhansk fighters have also approached the town of Schastye, the news agency said.
The east Ukrainian militias have also shelled the Ukrainian army grouping encircled near Ilovaisk in the Donetsk Region with mortar fire on Friday morning, Novorossiya reported.
The Ukrainian army command confirmed that the militia shelled the pro-Kiev troops’ positions twice near the settlement of Chervonaya Polyana and the checkpoints near the villages of Georgiyevka and Luhanskaya. The shelling of the checkpoints near the town of Lutugino and the settlement of Gerasimovka continued for almost four hours.
The Luhansk fighters entered the town of Lutugino two days ago and approached a local TV tower after battles with the Ukrainian troops, the Novorossiya news agency said.
“The enemy smashed the tower with mortar salvoes, killing ten our soldiers,” the agency said. “The militias are engaged in heavy battles. The enemy is breaking into the apartments of residents to set up fire pockets there,” Novorossiya said.Ukraine’s authorities have sent 150 police from the Kiev region as reinforcements for the Ukrainian troops, which are sustaining heavy losses, the news agency said.
“A new battalion dispatched to the east is composed of district police inspectors and personnel of the patrol and post service, investigation and other units of the regional police,” the news agency said.
The death toll of Ukrainian servicemen from the military operation that Kiev launched in the the country’s east on April 14, 2014 nears now to 789, press secretary of the National Security and Defense Council.
The east Ukraine militia headquarters earlier reported that the Donetsk People’s Republic, which had formed united armed forces, launched a counteroffensive on August 24 and 25, encircling three large groupings of Ukrainian troops.
The Donetsk self-defense fighters blocked over 7,000 Ukrainian troops and over 400 pieces of the armor, the militia headquarters said.
The encircled pro-Kiev grouping included over 40 tanks, about 100 infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers and airborne combat vehicles and about 50 Grad and Uragan multiple launch rocket systems, the militia headquarters said.
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said on Tuesday that militias had intensified fighting in the eastern and southern fronts in the Donetsk Region.
Pro-Kiev troops and local militias in the eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions are involved in fierce clashes as the Ukrainian armed forces are conducting a military operation to regain control over the breakaway regions, which on May 11 proclaimed their independence at local referendums.
During the military operation, Kiev has used armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation. Many buildings have been destroyed and tens of thousands of people have had to flee Ukraine’s embattled east.