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Ukrainian Army, Separatists Withdraw From Flashpoint Town

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) speak with a Ukrainian serviceman as they visit the town of Zolote in the Luhansk region on September 26.

The Ukrainian military and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine have announced a pullback from a frontline city as agreed upon in a demilitarization deal agreed to last month.

Ukrainian military spokesman Valentyn Shevchenko said on October 1 that both sides had moved their forces several kilometers away from the town of Zolote, recently the scene of fierce fighting.

Shevchenko added that some members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observer mission in Ukraine's Donbas region had "confirmed the retreat."

Mikhail Filimonenko, a separatist representative, said that "not a single soldier remains at the positions which they previously occupied, conforming to what is required by the Minsk peace accord."

Representatives of the Ukrainian government and the separatists had reached an agreement in Minsk in September to withdraw all heavy weapons and fighters from Zolote, Stanytsya Luhanska, and the Donetsk region town of Petrovske.

No withdrawal was reported in the other two towns.

The pullback should create a 2-kilometer perimeter around the three frontline towns.

It would be first progress registered in months toward the Minsk peace process.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine started shortly after Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014.

At least 9,600 people have been killed in the fighting.

Based on AFP and Interfax