SVITLODARSK, Ukraine – Heavy artillery fire roared Saturday in eastern Ukraine as fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists continued hours before a cease-fire was to take effect in the conflict that has killed more than 5,300 people.
Associated Press reporters saw the artillery barrage near the town of Svitlodarsk as well as considerable movement of Ukrainian forces’ armoured vehicles and rocket launchers along the road.
Svitlodarsk is about 20 kilometres north of Debaltseve, a strategically important railroad junction city where Ukrainian forces have been under siege by rebels. Eduard Basurin, a rebel spokesman, was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency as saying that the fighters would not allow the Ukrainian forces to escape the city but would be offered the opportunity to surrender.
Under an agreement reached Thursday, the warring sides are to cease firing at midnight (2200 GMT). However, a previous cease-fire called in September failed to…
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