Ukraine crisis: Rebels ‘abandon Sloviansk stronghold’

05 july 2014

President Petro Poroshenko has ordered the military to hoist the Ukrainian flag over the city council building.

Sloviansk’s rebel mayor said fighters had left, with reports saying they had headed towards the town of Kramatorsk.

Ukrainian forces launched an offensive against the separatists this week after a 10-day ceasefire broke down.

The BBC’s David Stern in Kiev says the military’s capture of Sloviansk – where the eastern insurgency began in April – will be a major victory for the government.

‘Surrendering’

Sloviansk’s rebel-backed mayor, Vladimir Pavlenko, confirmed to Agence France-Presse news agency that the separatists had left. But he said the Ukrainian military had not yet taken over.

Alexander Borodai, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said on a rebel website: “Due to the overwhelming numerical superiority of the enemy our men were forced to abandon their positions.”

The Associated Press quoted rebel spokesman, Andrei Purgin, as saying the army offensive had left the town “in ruins”.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28174104

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