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OSCE Agrees To Extend Ukraine Mission, Expand Size

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has agreed to extend the mandate of its monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine for another year and increase the number of monitors.

OSCE spokeswoman Mersiha Podzic said member states adopted the decisions on March 12.

She said the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine “can now have a size of up to 1,000 according to the circumstances” and that its mandate was extended to March 31, 2016.

More than 6,000 people have been killed in fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces since April.

The OSCE has deployed some 470 unarmed civilian observers in Ukraine, who are tasked with verifying the implementation of a peace deal agreed in Minsk on February 12.

A truce in force since February 15 has greatly reduced fighting and led to some heavy weapons being withdrawn by both sides.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and Reuters