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More Clashes Near Donetsk Kill Two More Ukrainian Troops

Pro-Russia rebels stand next to an armored military vehicle on the front line near the eastern Ukrainian town of Svitlodarsk on December 19.

Shelling, mortar fire, and heavy gunfire continued in eastern Ukraine, with at least two more government soldiers killed amid the latest outburst of fighting in the region.

Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, said in a statement on December 23 that three troops had also been injured in the past 24 hours.

Lysenko said the fighting occurred amid an offensive by Russia-backed insurgents southeast of the city of Donetsk.

The latest clashes erupted on December 18 near the town of Svitlodarsk, just outside the strategic railway junction of Debaltseve.Lysenko said eight troops in all have been killed since.

Insurgents, meanwhile, have accused the Ukrainian government of attacking their positions.

Fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government troops has killed more than 9,750 people since the conflict began in April 2014, according to United Nations figures.

On December 21, Ukrainian government representatives held talks with insurgent leaders, overseen by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The sides agreed on a new cease-fire that is set to begin on December 24.

With reporting by AP and AFP