Ukraine Fighting Rages as Cease-Fire Looms: 7 Troops Killed

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Seven Ukrainian service personnel have been killed and 23 wounded in 24 hours, a Kiev military spokesman said Saturday, despite a planned cease-fire worked out at a four-power peace deal in Belarus.

Pro-Russia rebels were trying to make tactical gains “to enlarge the territory under their control” ahead of the truce, Ukraine government spokesman Andriy Lysenko said in a daily televised briefing.

The cease-fire is due to come into effect Sunday under an agreement that also envisages a withdrawal of the heavy weapons responsible for many of the 5,000 casualties in the conflict that broke out almost a year ago.

"There has been no lull, moreover rebels continue attacks on Debaltseve," military spokesman Anatoly Stelmakh said in a television interview.

Debaltseve, a strategic transport hub northeast of Donetsk city, has been the focus of some of the fiercest fighting in recent weeks.

The Ukrainian military separately said the situation remained tense in parts of the contested Luhansk region.


- Reuters