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Russian-backed separatists take strategic high point east of Donetsk: Ukraine military source

Published on Aug 28, 2014 4:01 PM

KIEV (Reuters) - Separatists backed by Russian soldiers have taken Savur-Mohyla, a hill east of Donetsk that gives strategic command over large areas of the territory, a military sources said on Thursday. A pro-government militia fighter said the separatist forces had also entered the town of Novoazovsk in south-eastern Ukraine.

The sudden reverses for the Ukrainian military appeared to confirm the arrival of Russian forces to support the separatists, who have in recent weeks been under pressure from government forces in their strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk, the east’s two main cities.

"There is military equipment in Novoazovsk which came across the border two days ago from Russia," the fighter from the so-called Azov battalion that supports the Ukrainian army told Reuters by telephone. He did not wish to be identified by name. "The equipment is carrying the flags of the DNR (Donetsk People's Republic) rebels but they are regular Russian forces."

Separately, a resident of the town on the Sea of Azov, who would only give his first name of Mykola, said: “The authorities in the town are DNR ones. Tanks are moving here and there out on the highway, but there is no fighting going on for the town.”

Smoke rises after shelling during fighting between militants and Ukrainian forces in Donetsk on Aug 27, 2014. Russian-backed separatists have taken the strategic high point of Savur-Mohyla in eastern Ukraine, which looks out over wide areas of the region, a Ukrainian military source said on Thursday, Aug 28. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
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