DONETSK, September 2 (RIA Novosti) — Self-defense forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have resumed efforts to retake the city’s airport, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported from the scene.
The airport, held by pro-Kiev forces, is currently under fire from Grad multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars.
DPR Defense Minister Vladimir Kononov said Monday that retaking the airport was among the militia’s priority tasks.
The Ukrainian military and independence supporters fought over the airport in Donetsk on Sunday, killing at least one civilian and destroying at least 20 residential buildings.
Ukrainian forces left the Luhansk airport in the neighboring region Monday, according to the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. They blew up the runway to prevent it from being used.
The Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics do not have any aviation of their own.
Kiev has pulled many of its forces from much of the Donetsk region, according to the Republic's headquarters. DPR could not explain the maneuver, saying that the "militants may have decided to focus on the defense of the Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk region, or may want to regroup and refill the bases with equipment, or may have realized the lack of prospect in the attacks on DPR."
Since mid-April, Kiev has been conducting a military operation against the independence supporters in southeastern Ukraine, who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new government after a February coup.
The conflict has already claimed more than 2,500 lives, according to the latest UN statistics, published last week.