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Ukraine Launch Offensive

June 3, 2014 by staff 

Ukraine Launch Offensive, Arsen Avakov said that government troops broke through rebel positions around the village of Semenovka on the eastern fringe of Slovyansk. “An active offensive stage of the counter-terrorist operation is under way in Slovyansk,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

Local residents said that several Ukrainian combat jets and helicopter gunships attacked rebel positions on the eastern outskirts of Slovyansk, and heavy artillery barrages have continued throughout the day.

An AP journalist heard sustained gun and artillery fire and saw plumes of black smoke rising over the city. Ukrainian combat jets could be seen flying over the city.

Mr Avakov warned residents in Slovyansk and the nearby cities of Kramatorsk and Krasny Liman to stay at home.

A Ukrainian military officer said one serviceman was killed and 13 others were wounded when their vehicle came under rebel fire near Slovyansk.

The Interfax news agency quoted Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the leader of insurgents in Slovyansk, as saying that his men downed a Ukrainian jet and a helicopter gunship. The information, which was denied by the Ukrainian military, could not be independently confirmed.

Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly announced an escalation in armed operations, only to eventually back down. Government forces have in recent days been noticeably reinforced to the north of Slovyansk, however, and deployment of air power over the past week has signalled increased determination.

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