Ukrainians Strike Rebel-Held City as Fighting Spreads
Two days after Ukraine’s interim government declared itself all but helpless to control events in the eastern part of the country, Ukrainian military and police forces on Friday resumed their effort to retake this rebel-controlled city, forcing armed separatists from the city’s outskirts with armored vehicles, helicopters and ground troops — and seemingly pushing ever closer to a confrontation with Moscow.
The assault began before dawn, and by early morning church bells sounded a general alarm. With helicopters flying along the city’s edge, troops and armored personnel carriers approached the city from multiple sides. The fighting was brief and then sporadic, however, and clashes subsided by early afternoon, before resuming at night. When movements stopped the Ukrainian troops had advanced, capturing and holding separatist checkpoints and posting infantry and armored vehicles on a bridge overlooking rail lines by the city’s southern border.