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OSCE monitors caught up in small arms crossfire

December 17, 2014, 0:42 UTC+3 VIENNA

No injuries to SMM personnel or damage to SMM vehicles were caused,” the mission said

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VIENNA, December 16. /TASS/. Monitors of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) got caught in crossfire in eastern Ukraine, no one was injured, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) said in a spot report Tuesday.

“An SMM patrol of two armoured vehicles was caught up in small arms crossfire directed at Ukrainian military vehicles at the Donetsk International Airport. No injuries to SMM personnel or damage to SMM vehicles were caused,” the mission said.

“On 15 December, the SMM monitored the rotation of Ukrainian army personnel based at Donetsk International Airport. The SMM observed two green military trucks carrying 36 Ukrainian soldiers and a third military truck containing food, water and supplies,” it said.

“The trucks were driven by “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) members, as previously agreed and arranged by both sides, to the south side of the airport terminal. There, the three military trucks were handed over to the Ukrainian Army, which drove them in a northerly direction to their positions within the airport,” the report said.

“At approximately 16:50hrs, the same three Ukrainian military vehicles were observed by the SMM, driving towards where the SMM had parked its vehicles, on the roadway south of the terminal building,” it said.

“As the three trucks returned southwards, now driven by Ukrainian military personnel, and approached the position where the SMM patrol and the “DPR” vehicles were located, the Ukrainian military vehicles came under automatic rifle fire from a westerly direction,” the mission said.

“The Ukrainian military vehicles continued to take fire as they passed the SMM patrol and “DPR” vehicles,” it said. “There were no injuries or damages sustained by the SMM, Ukrainian military personnel and “DPR” members. The SMM patrol returned safely to base at 17:58hrs.”

Fierce clashes between troops loyal to Kiev and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April, to regain control over the breakaway southeastern territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics, have killed over 4,000 people.

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire at OSCE-mediated talks on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.

The ceasefire took effect the same day but has reportedly been violated on numerous occasions.

The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE adopted a memorandum on September 19 in Minsk, which outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.

The nine-point document in particular stipulates a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

In another attempt by both parties to the Ukrainian conflict to put an end to hostilities, the "day of silence" in eastern Ukraine began at 09:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on December 9.

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