Live

Watch CBSN Live

Ukraine troops push toward rebels in Donetsk

DONETSK, Ukraine -- Ukrainian troops took control of a key checkpoint on the western edge of Donetsk, the biggest city in the rebellious east, and were making gradual advances Tuesday to quash pro-Russian separatist forces.

An Associated Press reporter saw a tank carrying the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag Tuesday morning in the suburb of Marinka, which lies on a key road into Donetsk. Rebel combatants could still be seen in sniper positions in a nearby area closer to the city center.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation in the east, Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky, said further fighting was expected to ensure full control over Marinka.

Donetsk, a city of 1 million people, has largely been spared of fighting earlier during the rebellion that erupted in April but come under shelling in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Ukraine accused rebels of firing on a group of unarmed Ukrainian soldiers as they returned from the Russian side of the border on Tuesday.

Officials in Kiev said Monday that hundreds of troops engaged in a fire-fight near the border were forced to flee into Russia when they ran out of ammunition. Russian media reported that the soldiers had defected, a claim Ukraine denied.

Russia's Interfax news agency quoted Ukrainian national defense council spokesman Andriy Lysenko as saying pro-Russian separatists "treacherously fired on a column in which there were 195 unarmed Ukrainian troops returning from the Russian Federation."

There were no immediate reports on the number of casualties.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.