Ukrainian govt troops inch closer to rebel city

Topics: From the Wires,

Ukrainian govt troops inch closer to rebel cityUkrainian soldiers load a Grad missile during fighting with pro-Russian separatists close to Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Dozens of civilians were killed Monday when separatist rebels shelled a convoy of refugees trying to flee war-torn eastern Ukraine, a top Ukrainian official said. A top rebel chief said no such attack had occurred. (AP Photo/Petro Zadorozhnyy)(Credit: AP)

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian officials and military commanders say the government has captured swathes of another town near the key rebel-held stronghold.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that one soldier was killed and four wounded when a volunteer battalion came under mortar fire before entering the town of Ilovaysk, 18 kilometers (11 miles) east of Donetsk. Among the wounded is the commander of the Donbass battalion, Semyon Semenchenko, who said government soldiers destroyed three rebel checkpoints and four firing positions in ongoing fighting.

Government efforts to quell the pro-Russian separatist front have focused lately on gradually encircling the largest rebel-controlled city of Donetsk.

Volunteer battalions have proven essential in the government offensive against armed separatists in the mainly Russian-speaking east in April.

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