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Fighting Eases Around Eastern Ukrainian City


A destroyed Ukrainian tank is pictured on the front line near the government-held industrial town of Avdiyivka on February 4.

Fighting has appeared to subside in the Ukrainian town of Avdiyivka after a weeklong surge, as U.S. President Donald Trump told Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko the United States will work to end the deadly conflict near the Russian border in eastern Ukraine.

The late February 4 call came as an upsurge in fighting killed at least 35 in a week of escalated fighting between Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military said on February 5 that two soldiers were wounded in fighting but no soldiers had been killed in the past 24 hours for the first time since fighting over the frontline flashpoint city of Avdiyivka escalated.

Ukraine said that artillery attacks had significantly lessened, while the separatists reported scores of mortar and tank barrages by government forces.

The streets of Avdiyivka, an industrial city near the separatist stronghold of Donetsk, were quiet and no shelling was heard, according to AFP reporters.

A statement by Poroshenko's office said the two leaders "noted the urgent necessity of establishing a complete cease-fire" in the region.

Ukrainian military spokesman Serhiy Klymenko told AFP that a cease-fire agreed by both sides came into effect from 8 a.m. local time but it was only a verbal deal.

The pause was aimed at allowing workers to fix broken power lines after days without power or heat in the town of 25,000.

More than 9,750 people have been killed since the conflict in eastern Ukraine erupted in April 2014.

Ukraine has expressed concern that Trump could roll back some sanctions imposed on Russia after its illegal 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and in retaliation for Moscow's military, economic, and political support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Based on reporting by AFP