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Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) expressed serious concerns over the increasing number of civilian casualties and called on all parties to restrain from conflict in eastern Ukraine.
MOSCOW, January 24 (Sputnik) – Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on Saturday expressed concern over recent upsurge in violence in eastern Ukraine and called on the parties to the conflict to cease hostilities.
“Once again, the SMM expresses its deep concern about the increasing number of civilian casualties and calls on restraint of all parties, in particular to abstain from the use of force, including the use of heavy weapons such as unguided Grad rockets,” the OSCE Mission said in a statement posted on the organization’s website.
The mission stressed that firing at residential areas provokes counter-firing, causing civilians’ suffering.
“The SMM strongly condemns the continuation of the fighting in residential areas. Using residential areas as firing positions attracts counter-firing to these areas, further endangering the lives of civilians,” the organization stated.
The mission expressed its preparedness to facilitate peace efforts to achieve a localized ceasefire at the Donetsk airport and Donetsk city center. The pause would also provide an opportunity to deliver humanitarian assistance to the affected areas, the OSCE said.
The military operation against independence supporters in eastern Ukraine was launched by Kiev authorities in April 2014. Both the OSCE and the United Nations estimate that over 5,000 people have been killed in the ongoing conflict.
International peace efforts to settle the conflict resulted in Minsk agreements in September 2014. Under the deal, the parties were supposed to implement a ceasefire and pull back heavy weapons from both sides. Despite the agreement, the standoff continued, with both warring sides accusing each other of breaking the truce.
In December 2014, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared a “silence regime” in Donetsk region in an attempt to revive stalled peace talks. However, the clashes have intensified in January.
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