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Fighting In Eastern Ukraine Appears To Ease Amid School-Year Truce


A Ukrainian soldier at the front lines in Donetsk.
A Ukrainian soldier at the front lines in Donetsk.

Ukraine’s army and Russia-backed separatists have accused each other of breaching a new truce agreement coinciding with the start of the school year.

But the Ukrainian military said on August 30 in the morning that the intensity of shelling on its positions has significantly decreased since the cease-fire deal came into force overnight on August 29, according to the UNIAN news agency.

Since April 2014, more than 10,300 people have been killed in fighting between Kyiv's forces and the separatists who control parts of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Cease-fire deals announced as part of the Minsk accords -- September 2014 and February 2015 pacts aimed at resolving the conflict -- have regularly failed to hold.

The Ukrainian military said it had reported 18 attacks by the separatists over the previous 24 hours.

In the Donetsk region, separatists opened fire from an 82-millimeter mortar, weapons installed on infantry fighting vehicles, as well as grenade launchers and heavy machine guns, a statement said.

One attack in the Luhansk region involved an antitank gun, it also said, adding that there were no casualties reported in the fighting that occurred in the two regions.

Meanwhile, the separatists in Donetsk accused Ukrainian forces of violating the truce on two occasions, leaving a pensioner wounded.

Representatives of the separatists and the Trilateral Contact Group, which is attempting to regulate the conflict in eastern Ukraine, last week agreed to establish a truce on the occasion of the new school year from midnight on August 29.

The TCP consists of Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

On the morning of August 29, the OSCE reported truce violations and urged the sides to "honor their recommitment" for peace.

"Firing has to stop now, to protect Ukrainians on both sides of the contact line," said the OSCE, which deploys unarmed monitors in the conflict zone.

On August 23, Ukraine said five of its soldiers had been killed and seven others wounded in clashes with separatists, adding that the casualties represented the biggest loss of life among troops in months.

Two more soldiers were killed and six wounded in clashes, the Defense Ministry said on August 27.

With reporting by UNIAN, TASS, Interfax, and dpa
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