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Using everything from small arms and mortars to heavy artillery and airstrikes, they have managed to retake some key cities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, home to 15 percent of Ukraine’s population, forcing the insurgents to retreat to provincial capitals and their outskirts.

The military is closer than ever to fully encircling the rebels. But the wins have come at a steep cost. Hundreds of civilians have been killed since the government launched its anti-terrorist operation in mid-April.

In the past week alone, there have been dozens more casualties as well as heavy damage to residential buildings and infrastructure. The military also lost two more warplanes this week, shot down at an altitude of 5,200 meters by what Kyiv authorities say were rockets fired from Russian territory. Brought down near Savur-Mohyla and Dmytrivka, their shooting-down brought the total number of aircraft downed or damaged since the start of the conflict to nearly 20.

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