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By Chris Covert

Despite claims to the contrary emanating from Ukrainian military sources, Donbas rebels say they have taken the airport, according to published Russian language news reports and videos.

Three days ago news reports and videos from rebel news sources said that the rebels controlled all but two floors of the new terminal, and that they had eliminated a key position at the airport -- the airport control tower -- the Ukrainian military had been using to spot artillery fire into Donetsk city.

On Sunday, news accounts fr´╗┐om Kiev -- parroted by several western news agencies -- said that Ukrainian forces in the region were rushing infantry and tanks to the airport, and had retaken the new terminal.

But videos posted featuring top commanders known only by their call signs "Givi" and "Motorla", claimed that several Ukrainian counterattacks had been stopped, although Ukrainian military commanders were apparently continuing to send counterattacks into the airport. One of the videos showed Donetsk president Aleksandr Zakharshenko being escorted to the new terminal atop a BTR-70 armored personnel carrier, along with other troops.

According to an videoed interview of "Givi", another key position, Peski had been taken after a months long campaign and that Ukrainian troops were reinforcing, sending troops gathered at Avdievka, another position the Ukrainians used to support defensive operations at the new terminal.

However, reports from the pro rebel Voice of Sevastopol say that both Peski and Avdievka are still in the hands of the Ukrainian military. Those reports also say Ukrainian regular army troops were given the order to retreat, but volunteer units continued to stay and fight.

The Ukrainians also had used Peski to site artillery, but now artillery being used against rebel forces defending at the airport was coming from Opytnoye to the northeast. Much of the fighting now is located at the Putilov bridge, where rebel forces are attempting to prevent repeated Ukrainian army breakthroughs.

Fighting in Lugansk

Most of the fighting involved artillery fire exchanges between the two forces, centering around Schastye and highway 1303 and nearby villages.

Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for Rantburg.com. He can be reached at grurkka@gmail.com. You can read past articles about the 2014 war in southeastern Ukraina by clicking here.

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