UKRAINE LAUNCHES OFFENSIVE TO RETAKE DONETSK

FoxNews on July 26, 2014, published an AP report on Ukrainian officials saying their forces advanced to the outskirts of a key town north of Donetsk on July 26 in hopes of retaking the stronghold held for months by pro-Russia rebels. Excerpts below:

The move comes as Ukrainian forces appear to have gained some momentum recently by retaking control of territory from the rebels. But Russia also appears to becoming more involved in the fighting, with the U.S. and Ukraine accusing Moscow of moving heavily artillery across the border to the rebels.

Ukrainian national security spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Ukrainian forces were outside Horlikva, just north of the regional center of Donetsk.

“The direct route is open for the forces of the anti-terrorist operation to the capital of the Donbass region — the city of Donetsk,” Lysenko said.

Donetsk, a city of about 1 million people, is a major center of the separatist uprising that has battled Ukrainian government forces for five months.

About 35 miles to the east, the site where Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down was still eerily empty except for the parents of one of the 298 people killed in the July 17 accident. Nine days after the accident, a full-fledged investigation still hasn’t started due to the security risks posed by the nearby fighting.

But Jerzy Dyczynski and Angela Rudhart-Dyczynski, parents of 25-year-old Fatima, crossed territory held by pro-Russian rebels to reach the wreckage-strewn fields outside the village of Hrabove to visit the place of their daughter’s death.

U.S. and Ukrainian officials say the plane was shot down by a missile from rebel territory, most likely by mistake.

Two more cargo planes also flew 38 more coffins carrying victims to a forensic center in the Netherlands for identification and investigation.

The planes took off Saturday from Kharkiv, a government-controlled city where the bodies have been brought from the crash site in territory held by pro-Russian separatists fighting the Ukrainian government.

Officials said the flights took the last of the 227 coffins containing victims that have been brought to Kharkiv by refrigerated train.

The disaster sparked hopes in the West that Russia would scale back its involvement in the uprising in Ukraine’s east, but nine days later the opposite seems to be the case.

Russia launched artillery attacks from its soil into Ukraine on July 25, while the United States said it has seen powerful rocket systems moving closer to the Ukraine border.

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