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DONETSK, (Sputnik) — The deputy head of armed militia from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine said Tuesday that his troops had shot down two Ukrainian Su-25 military jets near the contested town of Debaltseve.
According to Eduard Basurin, one of the Su-25s was downed near the village of Komissarivka while the second — near the village of Chernukhine.
Both pilots ejected, and one of them landed on the territory controlled by DPR militia, Basurin said.
Debaltseve has seen some of the fiercest clashes in the past few days as the warring parties fight for control of this key rail and road juncture. Militias claim to be in control of the town's western outskirts, including three commanding heights near the highway.
Pro-independence forces in the neighboring Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) said earlier in the day they had downed a Ukrainian warplane near the town of Irmine, 35 miles away from the regional capital Luhansk. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry did not confirm this report.
A military offensive by Ukrainian government forces has entered an active phase following months of relative calm after the September ceasefire, according to militia reports. Self-defense forces in the two breakaway regions claim the fiercest fighting is around Debaltseve.
Kiev has been conducting a military operation in the southeast since a standoff between the new government and local opposition forces spiraled into an armed conflict in April 2014. The operation's press center said earlier militias had allegedly carried out over 70 mortar attacks against government troops' positions in the past 24 hours.
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