DONETSK, June 30 (RIA Novosti) - People with symptoms of chlorine poisoning are currently being admitted to hospitals in the Ukrainian city of Slaviansk after its suburbs underwent gunfire from Kiev-controlled security forces, the commander of Donetsk independence forces Igor Strelkov told RIA Novosti Monday.
“The symptoms are itchy eyes and a scratchy throat. We think it's something based on chlorine. Explosions occur in the air, after which a cloud of smoke bursts out. These shells are fired whenever the wind is blowing in our direction,” Strelkov said.
On Sunday, the so-called people’s governor of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic Pavel Gubarev accused the Ukrainian army of using chemical weapons to fight independence forces in Semenivka (a suburb of Slaviansk), injuring two.
Fierce battles near Slaviansk have continued throughout the weekend despite Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s decision to extend the ceasefire in the breakaway regions in the east of the country until Monday evening.
The initial ceasefire agreement was to expire was Friday at 10:00 p.m. local time (19:00 GMT), but Poroshenko decided to give the eastern militia an additional 72 hours to lay down their arms. Alexander Boroday, a leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, pledged to respect the new armistice.
Violence in southeastern Ukraine has been on the rise since the beginning of the punitive operation launched by the Kiev authorities in mid-April, claiming hundreds of lives. Luhansk and Donetsk regions refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new Kiev authorities that came to power following the February regime change in the country. Both areas have become epicenters of resistance for independence supporters.