DONETSK, Ukraine — Ukrainian troops took control of a checkpoint Tuesday on the western edge of the pro-Russian rebel-held city of Donetsk as the government makes further gradual advances to quash separatist forces in the east.
An Associated Press reporter saw a tank waving the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag in the suburb of Marinka, which lies on a key road into Donetsk. Rebel combatants could still be seen in sniper positions in a nearby area closer to the city center.
The government offensive against separatist fighters has focused recently on besieging the main rebel strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as the smaller but strategically important town of Horlivka.
After not seeing much fighting other than a rebel attempt in May to seize the city airport, Donetsk has come under shelling in recent weeks. City authorities estimate that about 200,000 people in the city of 1 million have left their homes. The airport is closed, but buses and trains are still running.
Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have been battling the Kiev government since April. Ukraine and Western countries have accused Moscow of providing the rebels with equipment and expertise, a claim the Russian government has repeatedly denied.
Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more.