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Russians press assault on eastern Ukrainian city

Russians press assault on eastern Ukrainian city
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Kyiv: Russian forces are pounding the city of Lysychansk and its surroundings in an all-out attempt to seize the last stronghold of resistance in eastern Ukraine's Luhansk province, the governor said on Saturday.

Ukrainian fighters have spent weeks trying to defend the city and to keep it from falling to Russia, as neighbouring Sievierodonetsk did a week ago. The Russian Defence Ministry said its forces took control of an oil refinery on Lysychansk's edge in recent days, but Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai reported on Friday that fighting for the facility continued.

Over the last day, the occupiers opened fire from all available kinds of weapons, Haidai said on Saturday on the Telegram messaging app.

Luhansk and neighbouring Donetsk are the two provinces that make up the Donbas region, where Russia has focused its offensive since pulling back from the northern Ukraine and capital Kyiv in the spring.

Pro-Russia separatists have held portions of both provinces since 2014, and Moscow recognises all of Luhansk and Donetsk as sovereign republics. Syria's government said on Wednesday that it would also recognise the independence and sovereignty of the two areas and work to establish diplomatic relations with the separatists.

In Slovyansk, a major Donetsk city still under Ukrainian control, four people died when Russian forces fired cluster munitions late Friday, Mayor Vadym Lyakh said on Facebook. He said the neighbourhoods that were hit did not contain any potential military targets. Elsewhere, investigators combed through the wreckage from a Russian airstrike early Friday on residential areas near the Ukrainian port of Odesa that killed 21 people.

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