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Defense Minister: Ukraine Troops Control Part Of Luhansk

Ukraine's Defense Minister has told President Petro Poroshenko that government troops had taken control of the southeastern part of the city of Luhansk in the country's east.

A statement on the president's website on July 18 said, "The minister of defense, Valery Heletey, told President Petro Poroshenko that Ukrainian armed forces took control of the southeastern part of Luhansk."

The statement added that troops had also surrounded the Luhansk airport.

Government troops and pro-Russian rebels have been reportedly engaged in fierce fighting in separatist-controlled Luhansk.

Local officials sad more than 20 people have died in shelling over the past two days. There are differing reports as to who is to blame for the shelling.

Electricity and water supplies have been reportedly knocked out in much of the city and a major oil refinery is on fire.

Based on reporting by Reuters, Interfax, and BBC