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Forty Ukrainian servicemen killed over past 24 hours — Donetsk republic militias

Donetsk republic militia have gained control over three settlements south of Debaltsevo

MOSCOW, February 19. /TASS/. The militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk republic (DPR) over the past 24 hours have taken under control three villages to the south of the strategic town of Debaltsevo, DPR defense ministry representative Eduard Basurin told a briefing Thursday morning.

According to Basurin, the three settlements are Mogila Ostraya, Savyolovka and Bulavino.

A total of 40 Kiev troops have been killed and another 50 wounded, while around 10 pieces of military hardware have been destroyed, he said.

A source in the DPR defense ministry earlier said the Ukrainian army had violated ceasefire 12 times over 24 hours and the militias returned fire.

Debaltsevo is a city 70 kilometers away from Donetsk in the east of Ukraine and a major railway hub. Heavy fighting has been taking place in Debaltsevo in the past few days amid controversial reports of around 5,000 servicemen being trapped in a pocket by the militia forces.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Wednesday that some units of Ukraine’s armed forces had left Debaltsevo with all their weapons. Later that day the DPR defense ministry spokesman said the town of Debaltsevo was fully under control of militia units.