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OSCE reports recent civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine

August 19, 2015, 2:59 UTC+3 VIENNA
Ceasefire violations were recorded in numerous locations, recent shelling craters are discovered in several areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions
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© Mikhail Sokolov/TASS

VIENNA, August 19. /TASS/. International observers monitoring the ceasefire in Ukraine on Tuesday reported new casualties among the civilian population.

Ceasefire violations were recorded in numerous locations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s special monitoring mission (SMM) to Ukraine said in its latest report, noting recent shelling craters in several areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

Visits to "heavy weapons holding areas" areas in territory controlled by Kiev and self-defence forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics revealed movement of previously recorded weapons on both sides of the contact line, the OSCE mission said.

"At Ukrainian Armed Forces sites, the SMM noted the absence of the following previously-recorded weapons: nine towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm); 10 MLRS (BM-21 Grad, 122mm); four towed anti-tank guns (2A19 MT-12 Rapira, 100mm); four self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm); four towed guns (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm); eight anti-tank missile systems (9P149 Shturm-S); and five self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152 mm)," monitors said, adding that at the Donetsk republic’s holding area, "the SMM noted the absence of two 152mm artillery pieces, whilst at the other, all previously-recorded weapons were present".

Presence of weapons or indications of fighting have also been registered through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to the report.

But for the most part, OSCE monitors visited places where shelling had been reported themselves. In many cases, monitoring was restricted by the parties, the mission said.

In the village of Panteleimonovka, controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, the OSCE mission - acting on information supplied by the Donetsk republic and intending to carry out crater analysis - "was met on arrival by approximately 50 aggressive people - of mixed age and gender - screaming and blaming the SMM", the report said.

"After 30 minutes, the crowd allowed the SMM to conduct analysis on two craters. The SMM concluded that they had been caused by 122mm artillery rounds fired from the west-north-west," it said.

The OSCE monitoring mission to Ukraine was deployed more than a year ago following a request from Ukraine. It delivers public reports on fighting between forces loyal to Kiev and people’s militias as well as on movements on border crossings between Russia and Ukraine.

Under terms of the peace deal agreed by leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in the Belarusian capital Minsk on February 12, the ceasefire regime came into effect at midnight on February 15.

This was to be followed by withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of military engagement by at least 15 kilometres (9 miles), prisoner release and agreement for international observers sent by the 57 member states of the OSCE to monitor the truce.

Withdrawal was due to start no later than the second day after the truce came into effect, for completion within two weeks.

Buffer zones were to be established of at least 50 kilometres (30 miles) for artillery of 100mm-calibre or more, 70 kilometres for multiple rocket launch systems and 140 kilometres for the heaviest rockets and missiles.

Both sides accuse each other of violating the ceasefire agreed in Minsk despite the pull-back of heavy weapons, and casualties are reported almost daily.

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